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Title: Six Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour - and Defences of his Discourses
Author: Woolston, Thomas
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Six Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour - and Defences of his Discourses" ***

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                            Thomas Woolston

                             SIX DISCOURSES
                            ON THE MIRACLES
                             OF OUR SAVIOUR


                           OF HIS DISCOURSES

              Garland Publishing, Inc., New York & London



                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

                    In VIEW of the Present
                       Controversy between INFIDELS
                       and APOSTATES.

                --_Nostrum est tantus componere Lites._

                           The Fifth Edition.

               By THO. WOOLSTON, B. D. sometime
                 Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.


                Printed for the Author, and Sold by him
                  next door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_,
                  and by the Booksellers of _London_, and
                  _Westminster_, 1728.

                         [Price One Shilling.]


                                 TO THE

                      Right Reverend Father in God


                        Lord BISHOP of _London_.


Upon no other View do I make a Dedication of this Discourse to your
_Lordship_, then to submit it to your acute Judgment, expecting soon
to hear of your Approbation or Dislike of it. If it so happen, that
you highly approve of it, I beg of you to be sparing of your
Commendations, least I should be puff'd up with them.

In my _Moderator_, some Expressions dropt from my Pen about the
Miracles of our Saviour, which, for want of Illustration then, gave
your _Lordship_ some Offence, and brought upon me more Trouble: But,
having now fully and clearly explain'd my self out of the Fathers, I
hope you'll be reconciled to me; and as you are a Lover of Truth,
will, against Interest and Prejudice, yield to the Force of it.

Whether your Prosecution of me, for the _Moderator_, was just and
reasonable, I'll not dispute here, having already expostulated that
Matter with you in several Letters, to which you would not condescend
to give me any Answer. For what Reason you was silent, is best known
to your self. But, in my own Vindication, I hope, I may publish
without Offence, that your taking me for an _Infidel_, was such a
Mistake as I thought no _Scholar_ could have made; and the Injury
done to my Reputation and low Fortunes, by the Prosecution, so
considerable, that the least I expected from your _Lordship_, was a
courteous Excuse, if not an ample Compensation, for it.

As to the Expediency of prosecuting _Infidels_ for their Writings (in
whose Cause I am the farthest of any Man from being engaged) I will here
say nothing. The Argument, _pro_ and _con_, has already, by one or
other, been copiously handled. And I don't know but I might be, with
your _Lordship_, on the persecuting side of the Question; but that it
looks as if a Man was distrustful of the Truth of Christianity, and
conscious of his own Inability to defend it; or he would leave that
_good Cause_ to God himself and the Sword of the Spirit, without
calling upon the _Civil Magistrate_ for his Aid and Assistance.

That scurvy _Writer_ of the _Scheme of literal Prophecy_, &c. which
your _Lordship_ must have heard of, would insinuate, that they are
only atheistical Priests, who, for fear of their Interests in the
Church, set Persecutions on foot: But after your _Lordship_ has
publish'd a strenuous Defence of Christianity to the Purpose of our
present Controversy, I'll have no such Suspicions of you.

Your _Lordship_'s persecuting (or, if you will, prosecuting) Humour,
is reputedly all pure Zeal for God's Glory; and, with all my Heart,
let it be so accounted, whether it be according to Knowledge or not.
Against Popery and Infidelity you are all Ardency! Who does not
commend you? Who can question the Sincerity of the Zeal of a
Protestant _Bishop_, and of a Protestant _Clergy_, when they persecute
the Enemies of their Church, that considers their own Steadiness to
Principles against Interest, under all Changes, since the Reformation;
and their Abhorrence of Extortion upon the People, for the Duties of
their Function, in and about this City. Such Honesty and Constancy in
their Profession, is a Proof of the Integrity of their Hearts, or I
know not where to find one.

But that your _Lordship_'s Zeal for Religion is very remarkable and
successful, I could prove by many Instances; one is, _that_ of your
routing a turbulent Sect of _Peripateticks_ out of St. _Paul_'s
Cathedral; and if you could as effectually clear _Christ_'s Church of
_Infidels_, what a glorious Bishop would you be!

And what Pity is it, that _Infidels_ likewise are not to be quell'd
with your Threats and Terrors! which (without the Weapons of sharp
Reasonings, and thumping Arguments, that others are for the Use of)
would transmit your Fame to Posterity, for a notable Champion for
Christianity, as certainly as, that your judicious Prosecution of the
_Moderator_ for Infidelity is here remember'd by,

[Sidenote: London, _April_ 17, 1727.]

  _My_ ~LORD~,
    _The Admirer of
        Your Zeal
          Wisdom and
  Thomas Woolston_.


                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

If ever there was an useful Controversy started, or revived in this
Age of the Church, it is _this_ about the _Messiahship_ of the holy
Jesus, which the _Discourse of the Grounds_, &c. has of late rais'd. I
believe this Controversy will end in the absolute Demonstration of
Jesus's _Messiahship_ from Prophecy, which is the only way to prove
him to be the _Messiah_, that great Prophet expected by the _Jews_,
and promised under the Old Testament. And tho' this way of Proof from
Prophecy seems to labour under many Difficulties at present; and tho'
some _Writers_ against the _Grounds_, being distressed with those
Difficulties, are for seeking Refuge in the Miracles of our Saviour;
yet we must persist in it, till what I have no doubt of, his
_Messiahship_ shall be clearly made out by it.

And the way in Prophesy that I would take for the Proof of _Jesus_'s
_Messiahship_, should be by an allegorical Interpretation, and
Application of the Law and the Prophets to him; the very same way,
that all the Fathers of the Church have gone in; and the very same
way, in which all the ancient _Jews_ say their _Messiah_ was to fulfil
the Law and the Prophets: But this way does not please our
ecclesiastical _Writers_ in this Controversy, neither will they at
present give any Ear to it.

The Way in Prophecy that they are for taking, is by a literal
Interpretation and Application of some Prophecies of the Old Testament
to our _Jesus_, but they are hitherto unsuccessful in this Way. The
Authors of the _Grounds_ and of the _Scheme_, grievously perplex them
with their Objections against this way of Proof, so far as, being
sensible, I say, of almost insuperable Difficulties in it, they are
flying apace to the Miracles of our Saviour, as to their sole and
grand Refuge.

But to show that there's no Sanctuary for them in the Miracles of our
Saviour, I write this Discourse: And this I do, not for the Service of
Infidelity, which has no Place in my Heart, but for the Honour of the
Holy _Jesus_, and to reduce the _Clergy_ to the good old way of
interpreting Prophecies, which the Church has unhappily apostatis'd
from, and which, upon the Testimony of the Fathers, will, one Day, be
the Conversion of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_.

For this Opinion, that there is no Sanctuary in the Miracles of our
Saviour, I chanc'd to say in the _Moderator_,[1] _That Jesus's
Miracles, as they are now-a-days understood, make nothing for his
Authority and Messiahship_. And again,[2] _That I believe, upon good
Authority, some of the Miracles of Jesus, as recorded by the
Evangelists, were never wrought, but are only related as prophetical
and parabolical Narratives of what will be mysteriously and more
wonderfully done by him_: Which Expressions gave Offence to some of
our _Clergy_, and brought upon me their Indignation and Displeasure.
I see no Reason to depart from the said Expressions, or so much as to
palliate and soften them, much less to retract them; but in
Maintenance of my Opinion, to the Honour of our _Messiah_, and the
Defence of Christianity, I write this Treatise on Jesus's Miracles,
and take this Method following.

I. I will show, that the Miracles of healing all manner of bodily
Diseases, which _Jesus_ was justly famed for, are none of the proper
Miracles of the _Messiah_, neither are they so much as a good Proof of
his Divine Authority to found a Religion.

II. That the literal History of many of the Miracles of Jesus, as
recorded by the Evangelists, does imply Absurdities, Improbabilities,
and Incredibilities, consequently they, either in whole or in part,
were never wrought, as they are commonly believed now-a-days, but are
only related as prophetical and parabolical Narratives of what would
be mysteriously and more wonderfully done by him.

III. I shall consider what Jesus means, when he appeals to his
Miracles as to a Testimony and Witness of his Divine Authority, and
show, that he could not properly and ultimately refer to those he
then wrought in the _Flesh_, but to those mystical ones, which he
would do in the _Spirit_; of which those wrought in the Flesh are but
mere Types and Shadows.

In treating on these Heads, I shall not confine my self only to
Reason, but also to the express Authority of the Fathers, those holy,
venerable, and learned Preachers of the Gospel in the first Ages of
the Church, who took our Religion from the Hands of the Apostles, and
of apostolical Men, who dy'd, some of them, and suffer'd for the
Doctrine they taught; who professedly and confessedly were endu'd with
divine and extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit; who consequently can't
be supposed to be Corrupters of Christianity, or Teachers of false
Notions about the Miracles of our Saviour, or so much as mistaken
about the apostolical and evangelical Sense and Nature of them. I know
not how it comes to pass, but I am a profound Admirer, and an almost
implicit Believer of the Authority of the Fathers, whom I look upon as
vast Philosophers, very great Scholars, and most orthodox Divines.
Whatever they concurrently assert, I firmly believe. And tho' they
are, for the most part, mysterious Writers out of the Reach of the
Capacities of many, who slight them; yet I, who have had the Honour
and Happiness of much of their Acquaintance, fancy my self well
apprised of their Meanings. If at any time I read a Passage in them
which I don't presently apprehend, I salute it with Veneration for all
that, till my Understanding is opened to receive the Sense of it. If I
meet with but a single Opinion in any one of them, I pay my Respects
to it; but where there is an Harmony and Agreement of Opinion amongst
them, it is with me, and ought to be with all Christians, of such
Weight, as to bear down all Prejudice, Opposition, and Contradiction
before it; or the Authority of no Man, whether ancient or modern, is
to have any Regard paid to it; and of what ill Consequence to Religion
such an utter Rejection of Authority will be, I need not say.

This I thought fit to premise, concerning the Authority of the
Fathers, to abate of the Prejudice beforehand, which some may conceive
against the following Discourse about the Miracles of _Jesus_. I don't
question, but some may be startled at the foregoing Heads, as if, what
is the farthest of any thing from my Heart, the Service of Infidelity
was in View; but craving the Temper and Patience of such Readers for
a while, and they shall find, that its no other than just Reasoning,
clear Truth, and primitive Doctrine about _Jesus_'s Miracles, that I
advance: Or if it should so happen, that none besides my self should
discern the Reasoning and Truth of the Argument; yet I hope it will
not be thought a Crime to revive primitive Doctrine, which none will
be able to deny it to be, whether they like it or not. If I err, I err
upon Choice with the Fathers, of whose Faith I am. And if any are
offended at what follows about the Miracles of _Christ_, let them turn
their Displeasure and Indignation against the Fathers, for whose
express or implicit Opinions I can be deserving of no Blame.

I am sorry for the Occasion of such a Preface against Offence, which
the Apostacy of the Age, and its Unacquaintedness with the Fathers,
has made necessary. So I enter upon the particular handling of the
Heads foregoing. And,

I. I will show that the Miracles of healing all manner of bodily
Diseases, which _Jesus_ was justly famed for, are none of the proper
Miracles of the Messiah, nor are they so much as a good Proof of
_Jesus_'s divine Authority to found and introduce a Religion into the

And to do this, let us consider, first, in general, what was the Opinion
of the Fathers about the Writings of the _Evangelists_ in which the Life
of _Christ_ is recorded. _Eucherius_ says,[3] _That the Scriptures of
the New as well as Old Testament, are to be interpreted in an
allegorical Sense_. And this his Opinion, is no other than the common
one of the first Ages of the Church, as might be proved by many the like
Expressions of other Fathers. As in such Expressions, they do not except
the Writings of the _Evangelists_; so they must include the History of
_Christ_'s Miracles, which as well as other Parts of the History of his
Life, is to be allegoriz'd for the sake of its true Meaning;
consequently the literal Story of Christ's Miracles proves nothing.

But let's hear particularly their Opinion of the Actions and Miracles
of our Saviour. _Origen_ says, that[4] _Whatsoever Jesus did in the
Flesh, was but typical and symbolical of what he would do in the
Spirit_; and to our Purpose,[5] that _the several bodily Diseases
which he healed, were no other than Figures of the spiritual
Infirmities of the Soul, that are to be cured by him_. St. _Hilary_ is
of the same Mind with _Origen_, as any one may see by the[6]
Expressions referr'd to, and his Commentary on St. _Matthew_. St.
_Augustin_,[7] and St. _John_[8] of _Jerusalem_, both say, that the
Works of _Jesus_ import farther Mysteries; and with them, the rest of
the Fathers agree, making the Miracles that _Jesus_ did then, no more
than the Shadow of some more powerful and mystical Operations to be
done by him, as I could show by more Citations out of them, if it was
needful. But from the foregoing Citations out of the Fathers it is
plain, in their Opinion, that our modern _Divines_ are in the wrong of
it, to lay much Stress on any of the Operations of _Jesus_, which he
did in the Flesh, for the Proof of his divine Authority and
_Messiahship_, which is only to be proved by his more mysterious
Works, of which those done in the Flesh are but Type and Figure.

But to come closer to the Purpose, let's see how indifferently, I had
almost said contemptibly, the Fathers speak of the Miracles of
_Jesus_, and particularly of his Power of healing all bodily Diseases,
which by modern _Writers_ is so much magnified and extoll'd. St.
_Irenæus_ says,[9] that if _we consider only the then temporal Use of
Jesus's Power of Healing, he did nothing grand and wonderful_;
consequently _Irenæus_ could not hold, that _Jesus_'s Miracles then
wrought, were a sufficient Proof of his divine Authority, much less of
his _Messiahship_. _Origen_ says[10] that _tho' many were brought to
believe in Jesus upon the Fame of the Miracles which he did once among
the_ Jews, _yet_ (what implies the Insufficiency of them for the
Conversion of Men) _he intimates that his greater and mystical Works
do prove his Authority_. St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_ says[11] that
_Jesus's Cures performed upon the Blind_, &c. _were indeed
considerable and great, but unless he do daily as mighty Works in his
Church, we ought to forbear our Admiration of him._ St. _Augustin_ not
only says[12] that _if we examine into Jesus's Miracles by human
Reason, we shall find he did nothing great, considering his Almighty
Power, and considering his Goodness, what he did was but little_; but
he tells us also, that[13] _such Works as Jesus did, might be imputed
to, and effected by Magic Art_. And accordingly _Moses_ and our
Saviour himself confess, that false Prophets, and false Christ's, will
do Miracles; and _Anti-Christ_ himself, according to St. _Paul_, will
do them to the Deception of Mankind. Nay, the Fathers[14] say, what I
believe, that _Anti-Christ_ will imitate and equal _Jesus_ in all his
Miracles which he wrought of old. How then can we distinguish the true
Prophet from the false; the true _Christ_ from the _Anti-Christ_ by
Miracles? our _Divines_ will find it hard to do it, if what the
Fathers say of _Anti-christ_ be found true. Moreover History affords
us Instances of Men, such as of _Apollonius Tyanæus_, _Vespasian_, and
of the _Irish Stroaker_, _Greatrex_, who have miraculously cured
Diseases to the Admiration of Mankind, as well as our _Jesus_: But if
any of them, or any other greater Worker of Miracles than they were,
should withall assume to himself the Title of a Prophet, and Author of
a new Religion, I humbly conceive, we ought not to give heed to him.

Neither is there the least Reason that we should; for the Power of
doing Miracles is no certain, nor rational Seal of the Commission and
Authority of a divine Lawgiver. St. _Paul_ says[15] there is a
_Diversity of the Gifts of the Spirit, for to one is given by the
Spirit, the Word of Wisdom; to another the Word of Knowledge; to
another the Gift of Healing; to another the working of Miracles; to
another Prophecy; to another discerning of Spirits; to another divers
Kinds of Tongues; to another the Interpretation of Tongues._ These
Gifts may be given apart and separately. One of them may be conferr'd
on this Man, and another of them on his Neighbour. There is no
Necessity that any two or more of these Gifts should meet in one Man.
To argue then, that a Man, who has one of these Gifts, must have the
other; that is, that he must needs have the Gift of Wisdom, or of
Prophecy, or of discerning of Spirits, or of divers Kinds of Tongues,
because he has the Gift of Healing and of working Miracles, is very
inconclusive, and false Reasoning: And yet this is the Reasoning of
our modern Writers who would prove _Jesus_'s Authority, to found a
Religion, from his Miracles. I don't question but _Jesus_ had all the
foresaid Gifts and Powers of the Spirit in a most superlative Degree;
but then it is unreasonably inferr'd, for all that, that a Man,
because he of Certainty has some of them, must of consequence have the
other. St. _Augustin_[16] cautions us against being deceived into a
good Opinion of a Man's Wisdom, because of his Power to do Miracles.
And I think accordingly, that we may as well say, that the strongest
Man is the wisest; or that a good Physician must needs be a good
Casuist; or that the best Mathematician is the ablest Statesman, as
that _Jesus_, because he was a Worker of Miracles, such as his are,
and a Healer of all manner of Diseases, ought to be received as the
Guide of our Consciencies, the Director of our Understandings, the
Ruler of our Hearts, and the Author of a Religion.

What then will the Writers against the _Grounds_ do to prove _Jesus_'s
Authority and _Messiahship_ from his Miracles? Or how by his Miracles
will they be able to distinguish him from an Impostor, a false
Prophet, and the _Anti-christ_? Why, they will say perhaps,

1. That besides Greatness of Power, there was nothing but Goodness,
Kindness, and Love to Mankind shewn in _Jesus_'s Miracles. As to the
Miracles of false Prophets and Impostors, if they be, many of them, of
a kind and benevolent Aspect, yet the _Devil_'s Foot, if we look well
to it, will discover it self in some ludicrous and mischievous Pranks:
But _Jesus_'s Miracles were all of a beneficent Nature; He went about
doing good, healing all manner of Diseases among the People, and did
no Wrong to any one; which is a good Argument, they say, of his divine
Authority, or God would not have suffer'd, nor the _Devil_ have work'd
such a Testimony in behalf of it. On this Head our _Divines_ are
copious and rhetorical, and many notable and florid Harangues have
they made on it. But

In answer to them, they don't seem to have their Memories at Hand, when
they declaim at this rate. The Fathers, upon whose Authority I write,
will tell such Orators, that _Jesus_, if his Miracles are to be
understood in the literal Sense, did not only as foolish Things as any
Impostor could do, but very injurious ones to Mankind. I shall not here
instance in the seemingly foolish and injurious Things which _Jesus_ did
for Miracles, intending under the next Head to speak to some of them:
But they are such, if literally true, as our _Divines_ do believe, as
are enough to turn our Stomachs against such a Prophet; and enough to
make us take him for a _Conjuror_, a _Sorcerer_, and a _Wizard_, rather
than the _Messiah_ and Prophet of the most High God. But

2. To prove the _Messiahship_ of the Holy _Jesus_ from his Miracles,
our _Divines_ urge the Prophecies of the Old Testament, such as that
of _Isaiah_, _C._ xxxv. _V._ 5, 6. _Then the Eyes of the Blind shall
be opened, and the Ears of the Deaf shall be unstopp'd; then shall the
lame Man leap as the Hart, and the Tongue of the Dumb sing_; and say
that these Prophecies were accurately fulfill'd by our _Jesus_ in the
several specifical Cures of Blindness, Deafness, Lameness, and
Dumbness, which he often perform'd upon one or other; and, inasmuch as
our Saviour seems to appeal to such Prophecies, do conclude this his
Accomplishment of them, to be no less than a Demonstration, that he
was the true _Messiah_, that great Prophet, who was to come into the
World. To which I answer,

_First_, That the Accomplishment of Prophecies that can neither be
given forth by human Foresight, nor fulfill'd in a Counterfeit, are
good Proofs of _Jesus_'s _Messiahship_: But then, what shall we say if
others besides _Jesus_ should do the like Cures and Miracles? It is
said of _Anti-christ_, and I believe it, that he will not only do all
the Miracles that _Jesus_ did, but will appeal to the like Prophecies
too. How then we are to distinguish the _true_ Christ from the _false_
Christ by Miracles and Prophecies in this Case, is the Question, which
I leave with our _Divines_ to consider of an Answer to, against the
Time that it is proved that _Anti-christ_ does all those Miracles,
which _Jesus_ in the Flesh wrought. But

_Secondly_, The foresaid Prophecies and others mentioned in _Isaiah_,
neither were, nor could be Prophecies of the miraculous Cures of
bodily Diseases which _Jesus then_ did. And this may be made appear,
not only from the Context of those Prophecies which received then no
Accomplishment from _Jesus_, who ought to have fulfill'd one Part of
the Prophecy as well as the other, or is not to be taken for the
Fulfiller of either; but from the Opinion of both _Jews_ and
_Fathers_, who adjourn the Accomplishment of those Prophecies to
Christ's spiritual Advent. But

_Thirdly_, The Prophet _Isaiah_, in the Place above cited, speaks not
of bodily Blindness, _&c._ which the _Messiah_ is to heal, but of the
spiritual Distempers of the Soul, metaphorically so called; as may be
easily proved, not only from the Prophecies themselves, but from the
old _Jews_, who were allegorical Interpreters of those Distempers, and
from the antient Fathers,[17] who so understood them. Consequently our
_Jesus_'s healing of those bodily Diseases, was no proper
Accomplishment of those Prophecies. It is true our Saviour, _Matt._
xi. 4, 5. seems to appeal to those Prophecies, and to make his Cure
of corporal Distempers an Accomplishment of them: But he means not in
the literal Sense, that our _Divines_ take him in, as I shall show
hereafter, when I come to consider what _Jesus_ means, by appealing to
his Works and Miracles, as bearing Witness of him.

Our _Divines_ then may admire and adore _Jesus_ as much as they please
for his Miracles of healing bodily Distempers; but I am for the
spiritual _Messiah_ that cures those Distempers of the Soul, that
metaphorically pass under the Names of Blindness, Lameness, Deafness,
_&c._ And the Cure of these spiritual Diseases, is the proper and
miraculous Work of the true _Messiah_; for the sake of which, says[18]
St. _Augustin_, _Jesus_ condescended to do those _little_ Miracles of
healing bodily Distempers, which were but the Type and Shadow of his
more stupendous Miracles of curing spiritual Diseases. The Cure of
spiritual Infirmities is a God-like[19] Work, above the Imitation of
Man or of _Anti-christ_, infinitely more miraculous than the healing
any bodily Distempers can be.

Whether our _Jesus_ be at this Day such a spiritual _Messiah_, I leave
to our _Divines_ to consider, with those spiritual Distempers of the
Church, that seem to want his miraculous Hand and Touch. The Fathers
of the Church said, that _Jesus_ was _in part_ such a spiritual
_Messiah_ in their time, and argued[20] his _Messiahship_, not from
bodily Cures, but from his most miraculous Cures of the Diseases of
the Soul: But there was another and future Time, in which he would be
such a spiritual and glorious _Messiah_ to the greatest Perfection. In
the mean while, no healing of corporal Distempers can prove _Jesus_ to
be the _Messiah_, nor any other of his miraculous Works recorded in
the _Evangelists_: So far from it, that

II. I shall prove that the literal Story of many of _Jesus_'s Miracles,
as they are recorded in the _Evangelists_, and commonly believed by
Christians, does imply Improbabilities and Incredibilities, and the
grossest Absurdities, very dishonourable to the Name of Christ;
consequently, they, in whole, or in part, were never wrought, but are
only related as prophetical and parabolical Narratives of what would be
mysteriously and more wonderfully done by him.

The reading of this Head will, I doubt not, strike with Horror some of
our squeamish _Divines_, who, notwithstanding they will sacrifice almost
any Principles to their Interest, will not bear that our literal
evangelical History of such renown'd Miracles should be thus called in
Question, and contemptuously spoken of. What does this _Author_ mean,
will some say, thus to do Service to Atheism and Infidelity? Away with
him! Our Indignation is moved against him! No Censure and Punishment can
be too severe for such Impiety, Profaneness, and Blasphemy, as is aim'd
at, and imply'd in this Proposition.

To calm therefore the Spirits, and abate the Prejudices of such
Accusers, I must proceed with the greater Caution and with Reason and
Authority well fortify myself before and behind, or I shall feel the
Weight of the Displeasure of our _Divines_, who are prepossess'd of
the Belief of the literal Story of all _Jesus_'s Miracles.

Before then I enter upon the particular Examination of any of his
Miracles, I will premise two or three general Assertions of the
Fathers about them. And first _Origen_[21] says, that in the
historical Part of the Scriptures, _There are some Things inserted as
History, which were never transacted, and which it was impossible
should be transacted; and other Things, again, that might possibly be
done, but were not_. This he asserts of the Writings of the
_Evangelists_, as well as of the Old Testament, and gives many
Instances to this Purpose. St. _Hilary_[22] says, _There are many
historical Passages of the New Testament, that if they are taken
literally, are contrary to Sense and Reason, and therefore there is a
Necessity of a mystical Interpretation_. And St. _Augustin_[23] says,
that _there are hidden Mysteries in the Works and Miracles of our
Saviour, which if we incautiously and literally interpret, we shall
run into Errors, and make grievous Blunders._ Of the same Mind are the
rest of the Fathers, as might be proved by express or implicit
Citations; but, studying Brevity, I think the three Testimonies above,
enough to cool the Rage, and assuage the Prejudices of my Adversaries
against the Proposition before us, which I now come to a particular
Consideration of; that is, to shew that the Story of many of _Jesus_'s
Miracles is literally absurd, improbable, and incredible. And

1. To speak to that Miracle of _Jesus_'s _driving the Buyers and
Sellers out of the Temple_, which all the[24] four Evangelists make
mention of.

I have read in some modern Author whose Name does not occur to my
Memory, that this was, in his Opinion, the most stupendous Miracle that
_Jesus_ wrought. And, in truth, it was a most astonishing one, if
literally true, and _Jesus_ must appear more than a Man, he must put on
an awful and most majestick Countenance to effect it. It is hard to
conceive, how any one in the Form of a Man, and of a despised one too,
(and we don't read that _Jesus_ chang'd his human Shape) with a Whip in
his Hand, could execute such a Work upon a great Multitude of People,
who were none of his Disciples, nor had any regard for him. Supposing he
could, by his divine Power, infuse a _panick_ Fear into the People; yet
what was the Reason that he was so _eaten up_ with Zeal against the
Profanation of that House, which he himself came to destroy, and which
he permitted, I may say commanded, to be filthily polluted not long
after. But not to form by my self an Invective against the Letter of
this Story, let's hear what the Fathers say to it,

       *       *       *       *       *

_Origen_ makes the whole but a[25] Parable. His allegorical Expositions
of it, are frequent, and one time or other he gives us the mystical
Meaning of every Part of it. By the _Temple_, he understands the Church:
By the _Sellers_ in the Temple, he means such _Preachers_ who make
Merchandize of the Gospel, whom the Spirit of Christ, some time or
other, would rid his Church of. He is so far from believing any thing of
the Letter of this Story, that he has form'd a[26] large Argument
against it: The Substance of which is, that if _Jesus_ had attempted any
such thing, the People would have resisted, and executed their Revenge
on him; if he had effected it, the Merchants of the Temple might have
reproach'd him with Damage done to their Wares; and would have justly
accused him of a Riot against Law and Authority. Whether there is not
Reason in this Argument of _Origen_, let any one judge.

St. _Hilary_ is of the same Mind with _Origen_. He says that this
Story is only a[27] Præfiguration of what will be done in Christ's
Church upon another Occasion. And he admonishes[28] us to search into
the profound and mystical Import of every Part of it; particularly he
hints that[29] by _the Seats of those who sell Doves_, may be
understood the Pulpits of Preachers who make Sale of the Gifts of the
Spirit, which is represented by a Dove. As to the Letter of the Story,
he is plain enough, that there was no such[30] Market kept in the
Temple of _Jerusalem_: And if any Historians besides the _Evangelists_
had asserted it, I know of none, who would have been so foolish as to
believe that Oxen and Sheep and Goats were there sold.

St. _Ambrose_ too is for the Mystery, and against the Letter of this
Story, saying[31] what should be the Reason that _Jesus_ should
overturn the Seats of those that sold Doves? This must be, says he, a
figurative Story, and signifies nothing less than the future Ejection
of Priests out of his Church, who shall make Gain and Merchandize of
the Gospel.

St. _Jerome_, as his manner is in other Cases, gives us a literal
Exposition of this Miracle, as far as it will bear it: But then corrects
himself again, saying, there are[32]Absurdities in the Letter; but,
according to its mystical Meaning, _Jesus_ will enter his Temple of the
Church, and cast out of it Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, who make a
Trade of Preaching. And in another Place he tells us of the mystical[33]
Whip, that _Jesus_ will make use of to this Purpose.

St. _Augustin_ also is against the Letter of the Story of this
Miracle, saying,[34] Where could be the great Sin of selling and
buying Things in the Temple, that were for the Use of it, and offer'd
as Sacrifice in it? We must therefore, says he, look for the Mystery
in this[35] figurative Story, and enquire what is meant by the Oxen,
and Sheep, and Doves, and who are the Sellers of them in Christ's
Church; and he is very positive that Ecclesiasticks, who are selfish,
and make worldly Gain of the Gospel, are here meant. And as to the
Expression of _turning the Temple into a Den of Thieves_, he says it
has Respect to the[36]_Clergy_ in Time to come, who would make such a
Den of Christ's Church.

Lastly, with the foregoing Fathers agrees St. _Theophylact_, who is an
Allegorist too upon this Miracle, saying, that those[37] who sell
Doves, are the Priests who sell spiritual Gifts; and that Christ
sometime or other would overturn their Seats, and clear his Church of
them. In another Place he intimates what are meant by Oxen and Sheep,
_viz._ the literal Sense of the Scriptures. And if the literal Sense
be irrational and nonsensical, the Metaphor we must allow to be
proper, inasmuch as now-a-days, dull and foolish and absurd stuff we
call Bulls, Fatlings, and Blunders.

Behold a wonderful Harmony among the Fathers in their Rejection of the
literal, and Espousal of the mystical Sense of this Miracle. It is
said of the Church in her first Ages, that she was inspired; and so
she was, or before an Hire for the Priesthood was established, and
pleaded for, she could never have written in this Fashion. If the
Fathers had lived now, and written thus, we should have thought the
Spirit of _Quakerism_ was gotten amongst them, or they would never
have given such an Exposition of this Story to favour an Enmity to an
_Hireling Priesthood_.

How and when Christ's Power, according to the Figure and Parable
before us, will enter his Church, and drive out of her these
ecclesiastical Merchants, is not the Question. But when ever it does
so effectually, it will be a stupendous Miracle, much greater than the
typical one is supposed to be; and not only a Proof of Christ's divine
Power and Presence in his Church, but an absolute Demonstration of
his _Messiahship_ from his Accomplishment both of the foresaid
Prophecies of the Fathers, and of other remarkable ones of the _Old
Testament_, which will be then clearly understood, and which it is not
my Business here to apply or mention.

       *       *       *       *       *

Against the aforesaid Exposition of this Miracle, perhaps it may be
objected, that (excepting a little Reasoning against the Letter of it)
this is only the chimerical and whimsical Dream of the Fathers, whose
Notions are obsolete, and who[38] _have adulterated Christianity with
their Cant and Jargon_; and that none of our _Protestant_ and Orthodox
_Divines_ have ever given into their Opinion.

       *       *       *       *       *

I confess, that none of our Protestant _Divines_, whom I know do
embrace the foresaid Exposition of the Fathers, but it may be nothing
the worse for all that: And tho' their Exposition may be very
disagreeable to the Priesthood of this Age, yet I can tell them of the
greatest Man of these last Ages, and that was _Erasmus_, who,
cautiously expressing himself for fear of giving Offence to the
_Clergy_, is of the same Mind with the Fathers; or he would not say
that[39] _that Work of_ Jesus _did prefigure somewhat else: For_ Jesus
_could not be zealous against the Prophanation of that Temple of the_
Jews, _which was soon to be destroy'd, but meant to shew his Dislike
and Hatred of ecclesiastical Covetousness, which, after the Way of the
Type, he would take his Opportunity to rid the Church of._

Before I dismiss this Miracle, I must observe, that if the Fathers are
right above, then our _Latin_ and _English_ Translations of the Place
in St. _Matthew_ err in a main Point. Instead of reading, _and Jesus
cast out them that sold and bought_, it should be, _those who sold and
preach'd_; that is sold what they preach'd: For the Word αγοραζειν,
does more properly signify to _preach_ than to _buy_; and in this
Sense here, according to the Fathers, it should be construed.

Again, I must observe, that our Commentators are a little perplex'd to
know who, and what those κολλυβιστων, _Money-Changers_, were. The
Greek[40] Word does import those who have a Knack to barter away
little base and Brass Money, with the Effigies of an Ox or Bull on it,
in exchange for good Coin. How applicable the Word was to any
Merchants of the old Temple at _Jerusalem_, is hard to conceive. But
it is very agreeable to our ecclesiastical _Collybists_, who, as I may
appeal to Freethinkers, vend their brasen-faced Bulls and Blunders at
an extravagant and great Price. And if τραπεζας, which is translated
_Tables_, does properly signify[41] _Pulpits_, who can help it?

So much then on the Miracle of _Jesus_'s driving the _Sellers_ and
_Buyers_ out of the Temple. And how I appeal to our _Divines_, whether
it be not an absurd, improbable, and incredible Story according to the
Letter, and whether it be any other than, as the Fathers said of it, a
prophetical and parabolical Narrative of what would be mysteriously
and more wonderfully done by _Jesus_. And so I come to speak to a

2. Second Miracle of Jesus, and that is, that of his[42] _casting the
Devils out of the Madman or Madmen, and permitting them to enter into
the Herd of Swine, which thereupon ran down a Precipice, and were all
choaked in the Sea_.

To exorcise, or cast Devils out of the Possess'd, without considering
the Nature of such a Possession, or the Nature and Power of the Devil,
we'll allow to be not only a kind and beneficent Act, but a great
Miracle. But then, be the Miracle as great as can be imagined, it is no
more than what false Teachers,[43]_Workers of Iniquity_, and even some
Artists amongst the _Jews_, have done before; consequently, such a work
of _Exorcism_ in our Saviour, could be no Proof of his divine Authority.
And if there was no more to be said against this Miracle, this is enough
to set it aside, and to spoil the Argument of _Jesus_'s divine Power
from it. But there are many Circumstances in the Story literally
consider'd, that would induce us to call the Truth of the whole into
question. How came those Madmen to have their Dwelling amongst the Tombs
of a Burying-Ground? Where was the Humanity of the People, that did not
take Care of them, in Pity to them, as well as for the Safety of
others? Or if no Chains, as the Text says, which is hardly credible,
could hold them, it was possible surely, as well as lawful, to dispatch
them, rather than their Neighbours and Passengers should be in Danger
from them. Believe then this Part of the Story who can? But what's
worse, its not credible there was any Herd of _Swine_ in that Country.
If any Historians but the _Evangelists_ had said so, none would have
believed it. The _Jews_ are forbidden to eat Swine's Flesh; what then
should they do with Swine (which are good for nothing till they are
dead) who eat neither _Pig_, _Pork_, nor _Bacon_? Some may say that they
were kept there for the Use of Strangers: but this could not be; because
that after the Time of _Antiochus_, who polluted the Temple with the
Sacrifice of an Hog, the _Jews_[44] forbad, under the Pain of an
_Anathema_, the keeping of any _Swine_ in their Country. Perhaps it may
be said, that the _Gadarens_, so call'd from the Place of their Abode,
were not _Jews_, but neighbouring _Gentiles_, with whom it was lawful to
eat, and keep _Swine_. We will suppose so, tho' it is improbable; but
then its unlikely (without better Reason than at present we are
apprised of) that our Saviour would permit the Devils to enter into a
Herd of them to their Destruction. Where was the Goodness and Justice of
his so doing? Let our _Divines_ account for it if they can. It is
commonly said of our Saviour, and I believe it, that his Life was
entirely innocent, that his Miracles were all useful and beneficial to
Mankind, and that he did no Wrong to any one. But how can this be
rightly said of him, if this Story be literally true? The Proprietors of
the Swine were great Losers and Sufferers; and we don't read that
_Jesus_ made them amends, or that they deserv'd such Usage from him. The
Proprietors of the Swine, it seems upon this Damage done them by
_Jesus_, desire him to depart out of their Coasts, to prevent farther
Mischief; which was gentler Resentment, then we can imagine any others
would have made of the like Injury. I know not what our _Divines_ think
of this Part of the Story, nor wherefore _Jesus_ escaped so well; but if
any _Exorcist_ in this our Age and Nation, had pretended to expel the
Devil out of one possess'd, and permitted him to enter into a Flock of
Sheep, the People would have said that he had bewitch'd both; and our
Laws and Judges too of the last Age, would have made him to swing for

Without Offence, I hope, I have argued against the Letter of this
strange Story of the holy _Jesus_; I should not have dared to have said
so much against it, but upon the Encouragement of _Origen_ and other
Fathers, who say, we ought to expose the Absurdities of the Letter, as
much as may be, to turn Men's Heads to the mystical and true Meaning.

Let's hear then what the Fathers say to this Miracle. _Origen_'s
Commentaries on this Part of St. _Matthew_, and St. _Luke_'s Gospel,
are lost; otherwise unquestionably he would not only have told us,
that he believed no more of the Letter of this Story, than he did of
the Devil's[45]taking our Saviour to the Top of a Mountain, and
shewing him all the Kingdoms of the World; but, as he is an admirable
_Mystist_, would have given us curious Light into the Allegory and
Mystery of it. But without _Origen_, we have enough in the other
Fathers against the Letter of this Story.

St. _Hilary_ reckoning up all the Parts of this Miracle together, says
of it, that it is[46] typical and parabolical, and written for our
Meditation of what would be done hereafter by the holy _Jesus_.
According to him, and other Fathers, the _Madman_ is Mankind; or if
they were two, they were _Jew_ and _Gentile_ at Christ's coming, who
may be said to[47] be _possess'd with Devils_, in as much as they were
under the Rule of diabolical Sins, and subject to the Worship of
Δαιμονιων, false Deities, which we translate _Devils_. They were _so
fierce_[48] _as no Chains could hold them_, because of their most
furious Rage and Enmity to the Church, whom no Bonds of Reason could
restrain from doing Violence to the Christians. They are said _to
be_[49] _naked_, because they were destitute of the Clothing of the
Spirit, and of Grace. And may be said to be _among the_[50] _Tombs_;
because they were dead in Traspasses and Sins. After that _Jesus_ had
exorcis'd these diabolical Spirits out of the _Gentiles_, and brought
them to their right Senses, which was upon their Conversion to the
Faith; then a _good Way off_, some Ages after, did the like _Devils_,
by divine Permission, enter into a[51] _Herd of Swine_, i. e. into
_Hereticks_ of impure Lives and furious Natures. What sort of
_Hereticks_ are meant, or whether they are not to be understood of
Christians In general, let our _Divines_ consider. But one would be
apt to think that _Ministers of the Letter_ are included, because the
_Letter_ of the Scripture is mystically call'd[52] _Swines_ Food. I am
not obliged to pursue the mystical Interpretation of this Parable (for
so I will call it) thro' all its Parts, nor to say what is meant by
the Sea, that the _Swine_ are to be absorp't in; but leave our
_Divines_ to chew upon this mystical Construction given them in part,
and to consider, whether there's not a Necessity for such an
Interpretation to make the Story credible.

And thus have I given you the Opinion and Exposition of the Fathers
upon this Miracle, which they turn all into Mystery. If our _Divines_
are still far adhering to the Letter of this Story, let them account
for the Difficulties it is involv'd with. To cure Men violently
distracted, and possess'd with _Devils_, is, whether it be miraculous
or not, a good and great Work; but to send the _Devils_, who without
_Jesus_'s Permission could not go into the _Herd of Swine_, was an
Injury done to the Proprietors, and unbecoming of the Goodness of the
holy _Jesus_. Neither is there any other Way to solve the Difficulty,
than by looking upon the whole, with the Fathers, as Type and Figure.

If this miraculous Story had been recorded of _Mahomet_, and not of
_Jesus_, our _Divines_, I dare say, would have work'd it up to a
Confutation of _Mahometanism_. _Mahomet_ should have been, with them,
nothing less than a _Wizard_, an _Enchanter_, a _Dealer_ with familiar
Spirits, a sworn _Slave_ to the Devil; and his _Mussulmen_ would have
been hard put to it to write a good Defence of him.

When our Saviour was brought before _Pilate_ to be arraign'd, try'd,
and condemned, _Pilate_ put this Question to the _Jews_, saying, _What
Evil hath Jesus done?_ If both, or either of the Stories above, had
been literally true of _Jesus_, there had been no need of false
Witnesses against him. The Merchants of the Temple were at hand, who
could have sworn "that he was the Author of an Uproar and Riot, the
like was never seen on their Market-Day; that they were great
Sufferers, and Losers in their Trades; and, whether he or his Party
had stolen any of their Goods or not, yet some were embezzled, and
others damaged; and all thro' the outragious Violence of this unruly
Fellow, against Law and Authority." If such Evidence as this was not
enough to convict him of a capital Crime, then the _Swine-Herds_ of
the _Gadarenes_ might have deposed, "how they believed him to be a
_Wizard_, and had lost two thousand Swine through his Fascinations:
That he bid the Devils to go into our Cattle, is not to be deny'd. And
if he cured one or two of our Countrymen of a violent Possession, yet
in as much as he did us this Injury in our Swine, we justly suspect
him of diabolical Practices upon both."

Upon such Evidence as this, _Pilate_ asks the Opinion of the _Jews_,
saying, _What think you?_ If they all had condemn'd him to be guilty
of Death, it is no wonder, since there is not a _Jury_ in _England_
would have acquitted any one arraign'd and accused in the like Case.

It is well for our literal _Doctors_, that such Accusations were not
brought against _Jesus_; or their Heads would have been sadly puzzled
to vindicate his Innocence, and to prove the Injustice and
Undeservedness of his Death and Sufferings. But for this Reason, if no
other, that no such Crimes were laid to his Charge, I believe little
or nothing of either of the seemingly miraculous Stories before us,
but look upon them both as prophetical and parabolical Narratives of
what would mysteriously and more wonderfully, and consistently with
the Wisdom and Goodness of _Jesus_, be done by him. And so I pass to a

3. Third Miracle of _Jesus_, and that is _his Transfiguration_[53] _on
the Mount_. And this is the darkest and blindest Story of the whole
Gospel, which a Man can make neither Head nor Foot of; and I question
whether the Conceptions of any two thinking _Doctors_ do agree about
it. To say there is nothing in the Letter of this Story, we Believers
must not, because St. _Peter_[54] says he was an Eye-witness of
_Jesus_'s Majesty, saw his Glory on the Mount, and heard the Voice out
of the Cloud. But as Infidels will be prying into the Conduct of
_Jesus_'s Life, and forming their Exceptions to the Credibility or
Probability of this or that part of it, so we Christians should be
ready at an Answer, that might reasonably satisfy them; and not
forcibly bear down their Opposition, which will make no sincere
Converts of them. And I believe they would easily distress us with
Difficulties and Objections to the Letter of this Story.

St. _Augustin_ himself[55] owns, that the whole of it might be
perform'd by Magic Art; and we know, in these our Days, that some
Jugglers are strange Artists at the Imitation of a Voice, and to make
it as if it came from a far off, when it is uttered close by us, and
can cast themselves too into different Forms and Shapes, without a
Miracle, to the Surprise and Admiration of Spectators.

But what, I trow, do our _Divines_ mean by _Jesus_'s
_Transfiguration_. We read that his Countenance did shine like the
Sun, and his Raiment was made as white as Snow, and that's all. And is
this enough can we think, to demonstrate that Transaction, a
miraculous _Transfiguration_? Philosophers will tell us, that the
Reflections of the Light of the Sun will change the Appearance of
Colours, and to none more than Whiteness; and _Sceptics_ will say,
that its no Wonder if the Countenance of _Jesus_ look'd _Rubicund_,
when the Sun might shine on it.

The Word in the Original for _transfigured_, is μεταμορφωθη, that is, he
was metamorphosed, transform'd, or, if you will, transfigured. And what
is to be understood by a _Metamorphosis_, we are to learn not only from
the natural Import of the Word, but from the ancient Use of it.
Accordingly, it signifies nothing less than the Change or Transformation
of a Person into the Forms, Shapes, and Essences of Creatures and Things
of a quite different Species, Size, and Figure: But _Jesus_, it is
conceived, was not so _transfigured_. Our _Divines_, I suppose, would
not have him thought such a _Posture-Master_ for the whole World. If I,
or anyone else, should assert, that _Jesus_ upon the Mount transform'd
himself into a Calf, a Lyon, a Bear, a Ram, a Goat, an Hydra, a Stone, a
Tree, and into many other Things of the animate and inanimate World, I
dare say there would, among our orthodox _Divines_, be such Exclamations
against me for Blasphemy, as the like were never heard of. They, to be
sure, will not hear of such a Transfiguration; nor, like good plain
believers, will bear any thing more than that _Jesus_'s _Countenance did
shine_ like the Sun, and the Colour of his Vestments was changed; which
whether it comes up to the Import of a _Metamorphosis_ or not, they
don't care.

But to close with our _Divines_, and acknowledge that the glorious
Change of _Jesus_'s Countenance, and of the Colour of his Vestments,
was a true and proper Transfiguration, and that it was as real and
wonderful a Miracle as could be wrought: But then we may, I hope, ask
them, what was the particular Reason and Use of this Miracle? Was it a
Miracle only for the sake of a Miracle? That's an Absurdity in the
Opinion of[56] St. _Augustin_, who says, what is reasonable to think,
that all and every one of _Jesus_'s Miracles had its particular End
and Use; or he who is the Wisdom as well as Power of God, had never
wrought them. And what, I pray, was the life of this Miracle? Of that
the evangelical History is silent, and our _Divines_, with all their
reasoning Faculties, can say nothing to it.

And what did _Moses_ and _Elias_ on the Mount with _Jesus_? Was it in
their own proper Persons that they appear'd? or were they only some
Spectres and Apparitions in resemblance of them? It is said, that they
were talking with _Jesus_; what then did they talk about? The three
greatest Prophets and Philosophers of the Universe could not possibly
meet and confer together, but on the most sublime, useful, and
edifying Subject. Its strange that the Apostles, who over-heard their
Confabulation, did not make a Report of it, and transmit it to
Posterity for our Edification and Instruction. St. _Luke_, as our
_English_ Translation has it, seems to say that they talk'd together
of _Jesus_'s _Decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem_; but
this can't be the Meaning of St. _Luke_'s[57] Words, which so
interpreted, are no less than a _Barbarism_, and, I appeal to our
Greek _Criticks_, an Improper Expression of such Signification. We
must then look for a more proper Construction of the Phrase in St.
_Luke_, or we must remain in the Dark, as to the Subject, that _Moses_
and _Elias_ talked with _Jesus_ about.

But further, Why could not this Miracle have been wrought in the
Valley as well as upon a Mountain, whither _Jesus_ and his three
Apostles ascended for the Work of it? Naughty _Infidels_ will say, it
was for the Advantage of a Cloud, which often moves and rests on the
Tops of Mountains, to display his Pranks in. And why was it not done
in the Presence of the Multitude, as well as of his three Apostles?
The more Witnesses of a Miracle, the better it is attested, and the
more reasonably credited; and there could not surely be too many
Witnesses of this, any more than of others of _Jesus_'s Miracles, if
real ones. Ought not the unbelieving Multitude, for many Unbelievers
unquestionably were amongst them, to have had a Sight and Hearing of
this Miracle, as well as the Apostles? Who should rather see the
Miracle, than those who wanted Conviction? Were they to take the
Report of the Miracle upon the Word of the Apostles, who were Parties
in the Cause? Our _Divines_ may possibly say they ought: But
_Infidels_ and _Free-Thinkers_ would cry out against them, for
juggling Tricks, and pious Impostures.

These are all Difficulties and hard Questions about the Miracle of
Christ's Transfiguration, which our _Clergy_, who are Admirers of the
Letter of that Story, are obliged to account for; and I believe it
will be long enough before they give a proper and satisfactory Answer
to many of them.

Let's hear then what the Fathers say to this miraculous Story of
_Jesus_'s Transfiguration. And it is agreed amongst them, that the
whole is but a Type,[58] Prefiguration, and[59] ænigmatical
Resemblance of a future and more glorious and real Transfiguration.
And whenever they speak of any Part of the Story, they never explain
to us how the Matter went upon Mount _Tabor_, but tell us of what
_this_ or _that_ Part of it is figurative and emblematical; and how it
is to be understood, and will be fulfill'd in future Time. As thus, by
_the_[60] _six Days_, they understood six Ages of the World, after
which a real and mysterious Transfiguration will be exhibited to our
intellectual Views. By _Moses_ and _Elias_[61] talking with _Jesus_,
they mean the Law and the Prophets, upon an allegorical
Interpretation, bearing Testimony unto Christ as the Fulfiller of
them. By the[62] _Mountain_ on which this future Transfiguration will
be exhibited, they understand the sublime and anagogical Sense of the
Law and the Prophets. By his _Transfiguration_ it self, they mean his
taking upon him, and passing through the Forms of all the Types of him
under the Law, as of a Lamb, a Lion, a Serpent, a Calf, a Rock, a
Stone, and of many others, which he is to fulfil, and which will then
be clearly discern'd by us. By the black Cloud[63] that at present
obstructs this Vision, they understand the Letter of the Old
Testament. By the white[64] Vestments of _Jesus_, they mean the Words
of the Scriptures, which will then shine clear and bright. By the
Voice out of the Cloud, they mean, with St. _Peter_, the Word of
Prophecy, that will sound in the Ears of our Apprehensions. And
lastly, they tell us, that the Way to attain to the Sight of this
glorious Vision, is by ascending (not by local Motion, but by Reason)
to the Tops of the Mountain of the mysterious and sublime Sense of the
Law and the Prophets. If we continue in the Plains and Vallies[65] of
the Letter, like the Multitude under the Mountain, we shall never see
_Jesus_ in his shining Vestments, nor how he was transform'd into the
Types of the Law; nor _Moses_ and _Elias_ talking with him; nor the
Law and the Prophets agreeing harmoniously in a Testimony to him.

After this fashion do the Fathers, one or other of them, copiously
treat on every Part of this Transfiguration of _Jesus_. I could
collect an almost infinite Number of Passages out of their Writings to
this Purpose: But from these few it is plain, they look'd on the
Story of Christ's Transfiguration, but as a Figure and Parable; and
they were certainly in the right on't, in as much as this their Sense
of the Matter, and no other, will solve the Difficulties before
started against the Letter, as any one may discern, if he attentively
review and compare one with the other: As, for instance, this their
Sense and Interpretation lets us into the Reason of _Moses_ and
_Elias_'s appearing on the Mount with _Jesus_; and gives us to
understand what they talk'd about, and that was, not on _Jesus_'s
_Decease which he would accomplish at_ Jerusalem, as our Translation
has it, but on the Prophecy of the Old Testament; particularly, as St.
_Luke_ says, on _Moses_'s Book of _Exodus, and how he would fulfill
it_ at the New Jerusalem.

Whether any, besides my self, does really apprehend, and is willing to
understand this Story of Christ's Transfiguration, as I do, I neither
know nor care. I am not bound to find others Ears, Eyes, and
Capacities. What I have said is enough to shew the Sense of the
Fathers about this Matter. If any dislike their concurrent Opinion of
_Jesus_'s Transfiguration's being an Emblem, an Enigma, and figurative
Representation of a future and most glorious Transfiguration, such a
one as they speak of; let him account for the Difficulties and
Objections which I have before raised against the Letter of this
Story. In the mean time I shall think it, literally, an absurd,
improbable, and incredible one, and no other than a prophetical and
parabolical Narrative of what will be mysteriously and more
wonderfully done by _Jesus_.

And thus I have considered _three_ of the Miracles of our Saviour, and
shewn how they are Absurdities, according to the Letter, consequently
do make nothing for his Authority and _Messiahship_. I can and will do
as much by his other Miracles; for I would not have any one think I am
gotten to the End of my Tedder, but for some Reasons best known to my
self, I publish these Remarks on these three first. After the _Clergy_
have chew'd upon these a while, I will take into Examination some
others of _Jesus_'s Miracles, which for their literal Story are
admired by them. As for Instance,

I will take to task his Miracle[66] _of changing Water into Wine at a
Marriage in Cana of Galilee_; which was the beginning of _Jesus_'s
Miracles, and should by right have been first spoken to; but I am
almost too grave to handle the Letter of this Story as I ought; and if I
had treated it as ludicrously as it deserves, I don't know but at
setting out, I should have put the _Clergy_ quite out of all Temper. I
would not now for the World be so impious and profane, as to believe,
with our _Divines_, what is contain'd and imply'd in the Letter of this
Story. If _Apollonius Tyanæus_, and not _Jesus_, had been the Author of
this Miracle, we should often have reproached his Memory with it. It is
said of _Apollonius Tyanæus_, that a Table was all on a sudden, at his
Command, miraculously spread with Variety of nice Dishes for the
Entertainment of himself and his Guests; which Miracle, our _Divines_
can tell him, makes not at all to his Credit, in as much as it was done
for the Service and Pleasure of luxurious Appetites. But if _Apollonius_
had done, as our _Jesus_ did at this Wedding, they would have said much
worse of him; and that, modestly speaking, he delighted to make his
Friends thoroughly merry, or he would not be at the Pains of a Miracle
to turn so much Water into Wine, after they had before _well drank_. If
the Fathers then don't help us out at the mystical and true Meaning of
this Miracle, such farther Objections may be form'd against the Letter,
as may make our _Divines_ asham'd of it.

I will also take into Examination _Jesus_'s Miracle[67] of _feeding
many Thousands in the Wilderness with a few Loaves and Fishes_; which,
according to the Letter, are most romantick Tales. I don't in the
least question _Jesus_'s Power to magnify or multiply the Loaves, and,
if he pleass'd, to meliorate the Bread: But that many Thousands of
Men, Women, and Children, should follow him into the Wilderness, and
stay with him three Days and Nights too, without eating, is a little
against Sense and Reason. Whether the Wilderness was near to, or far
from the People's Habitations, the Difficulties attending the Story
are equally great. I wonder how _Jesus_ amused them all the while,
that they had the Patience to stay with him without Food; but I much
more wonder, that no Victuallers besides the _Lad_ with his Loaves and
Fishes, of whom, and his Occupation, whether it was that of a _Baker_
or _Fishmonger_; and of his Neglect of his Master's Business here; and
of the Reason that he met with no hungry Chapmen for his Bread before,
we shall make some Enquiry; but particularly why he alone, I say, and
no other Victuallers, no other Retalers of Cakes and Gingerbread
followed the Camp. In short, for all the imaginary Greatness of the
Miracle (which there is a way to reduce and lessen) of _Jesus_'s
feeding his Thousands with a few Loaves, there must be some
Fascination or Enchantment (condemn'd by the Laws of the _Jews_ as
well as of other Nations) in the Matter; or the People if they had
stay'd one Day, would not two, much less three _to faint_, but would,
especially the Women and Children, have been for returning the first
Night home. We must then seek to the Fathers (who say the five Books
of _Moses_ are the _five Barley Loaves_, &c. and the septiform'd
Spirit, the _seven Loaves_, &c.) for a good Notion of this Miracle,
and if they don't make it a Parable; do what our _Divines_ can, it
will turn to the Dishonour of the holy Jesus.

I will also consider the Miracle of _Jesus_'s[68] _curing the Man sick
of the Palsy, for whom the Roof of the House was broken up, to let him
down into the Room where_ Jesus _was, because his Bearers could not
enter in at the Door for the Press of the People_. This literally is
such a _Rodomontado_, that were Men to stretch for a Wager, against
Reason and Truth, none could out-do it. Where was the Humanity of the
People, and wherefore did they so tumultuate against the Door of the
House? Its _strange_ they had not so much Compassion on the
_Paralytick_, as to give way to him: Its _more strange_ that his Bearers
could get to the Top of the House with him and his Bed too, when they
could not get to the Door, nor the Sides of it: Its _yet stranger_, that
the good Man of the House would suffer his House to be broken up, when
it could not be long ere the Tumult of the People would be appeas'd: But
most _strange_, that _Jesus_, who could drive his thousands out at the
Temple before him, and draw as many after him into the Wilderness, did
not, by Force or Persuasion, make the People to retreat, but that such
needless Trouble and Pains must be taken for the miraculous Cure of this
poor Man. Let's think of these Things against the Time, that out of the
Fathers I prove this Story to be a Parable.

I will also take into Consideration the Miracle of _Jesus_'s curing
_the_[69] _blind Man, for whom Eye-Salve was made of Clay and
Spittle_; which Eye-Salve, whether it was balsamick or not, does
equally affect the Credit of the Miracle. If it was naturally
medicinal, there's an End of the Miracle; and if it was not at all
medicinal, it was foolishly and impertinently apply'd, and can be no
otherwise accounted for, than by considering it, with the Fathers, as
a figurative Act in _Jesus_.

I will also take into Consideration the several Stories of _Jesus_'s
raising of the Dead; and, without questioning his actual bringing of
the Dead to Life again, will prove from the Circumstances of those
Stories, that they are parabolical, and are not literally to be
apply'd to the Proof of _Jesus_'s divine Authority and Messiahship;
or, for Instance, _Jesus_, when he raised _Jairus_'s[70] Daughter from
the Dead, would never have turned the People out of the House, who
should have been his best and properest Witnesses.

I will also consider the Miracle of _Jesus_'s[71] _cursing the
Fig-Tree_, for its not bearing Fruit out of Season; which, upon the
bare mention of it, appears to be a foolish, absurd, and ridiculous
Act, if not figurative.

I will also consider the[72] Journey of the Wisemen out of the East,
with their (literally) senseless and ridiculous Presents of
_Frankincense_ and _Myrrhe_, to a new-born Babe. If with their _Gold_,
which could be but little, they had brought their _Dozens_ of Sugar,
Soap, and Candles, which would have been of Use to the Child and his
poor Mother in the Straw, they had acted like wise as well as good
Men. But what, I pray, was the Meaning and Reason of a Star, like a
_Will-a-Whisp_, for their Guide to the Place, where the holy Infant
lay. Could not God, by divine Impulse, in a Vision or in a Dream, as
he ordered their Return home, have sent them on this important Errand;
but that a Star must be taken or made out of Course to this Purpose? I
wonder what Communication passed between these Wisemen and the Star,
or how they came to know one anothers Use and Intention. But the
Fathers shall speak hereafter farther to the Senselessness of this
Story literally, and make out the Mystery and true Meaning of it.

I will also, by the Leave of our _Divines_, take again into
Consideration the miraculous Conception of the Virgin _Mary_, and the
Resurrection of _Jesus_ from the Dead. I do believe, if it may so
please our _Divines_, that _Jesus_ was born of a pure Virgin, and that
he arose from the Dead: But speaking too briefly, in the _Moderator_,
to these two Miracles, they took Offence. I will therefore give them a
Review, and speak home to them; particularly to Christ's Resurrection,
the evangelical Story of which literally, is such a Complication of
Absurdities, Incoherences, and Contradictions, that unless the Fathers
can help us to a better Understanding of the _Evangelists_ than we
have at present, we must of Necessity give up the Belief of it.

These and many[73] other of the historical and miraculous Parts of
_Jesus_'s Life, will I take into Examination, and shew, that none of
them literally do prove his divine Authority: so far from it, that they
are full of Absurdities, Improbabilities, and Incredibilities; but that
his whole Life in the Flesh, is but[74] Type, Figure, and Parable of his
mysterious and spiritual Life and Operations in Mankind.

In the End of this Head, it will be a curious and diverting Subject to
examine the Miracles of _Jesus_ as they are literally understood, by the
Notions which our _Divines_ have advanced about Miracles; and to shew,
that even their Notions compared with Christ's Miracles, are destructive
of his Authority, and subversive of Christianity. This, I say, would be
a most diverting Undertaking, and it will be strange, if some
_Free-Thinker_, that loves Pleasure of this kind, does not take the
Hint, and snatch the Work out of my Hands. If I do it my self, I shall
have especial Regard to the Writers against the _Grounds_, without
passing by Mr. _Chandler_'s _Essay on Miracles_; on which the more
Remarks will be made, if it be but to pay my Respects to the
_Archbishop_'s Judgment, and to shew my Admiration at those extravagant
Praises, which his _Grace_ at _Lambeth_ has bestowed on that Author.
Among other his notable Notions of a Miracle (and the _Archbishop_ says
he has[75] _set the Notion of a Miracle upon a clear and sure
Foundation_) one is,[76] _That Miracles should be Things probable as
well as possible, that they do not carry along with them the Appearance
of Romance and Fable, which would unavoidably prejudice Men against
believing them_. This is certainly a good and right Notion of a divine
Miracle; and I don't doubt, but according to it, Mr. _Chandler_ and the
_Archbishop_ think, they can justify the literal Story of our Saviour's
Miracles, against the Charge of _Fable_ and _Romance_: But whether they
are able to do it or not, I shall go on, in some Discourses hereafter to
be publish'd, to prove that our _Divines_, by espousing the Letter of
Christ's Miracles, have deceived themselves into the Belief of the most
arrant _Quixotism_ that can be devis'd and palm'd upon the
Understandings of Mankind. I say, they have deceived themselves; for
neither the Fathers, nor the Apostles, nor even _Jesus_ himself, means
that his Miracles, as recorded in the _Evangelists_, should be taken in
a literal Sense, but in[77] a mystical, figurative, and parabolical one.
And this should bring me to the

III. Head of my Discourse; that is, to consider what _Jesus_ means, when
he appeals to his Works and Miracles, as to a Witness and Testimony of
his divine Authority; and to shew, that he could not properly and truly
refer to those supposed to be wrought by him in the _Flesh_, but to
those mystical ones he would do in the _Spirit_, of which those
seemingly wrought by him in the Flesh, are but Types and Shadows.

But this Head can't be rightly spoken to, till I have more amply
discuss'd the former, which, by God's Leave, I promise to do: And if
my _courteous Readers_ will be so kind as to trust me till that Time,
I assure them to prove, that no Ignorance and Stupidity can be
greater, than the Imagination that _Jesus_ really appeal'd to his
Miracles, supposed to have been wrought by him in the Flesh, as to a
Witness and Testimony of his divine Authority, and _Messiahship_.

In the mean Time our _Divines_ may go on in their own Way, if they
think fit, and admire _Jesus_ of old, and celebrate his Power and
Praises for healing of bodily Diseases, and doing other notable Feats
according to the Letter of the evangelical Story; but I am for the
spiritual _Jesus_ and _Messiah_, who cures the worse[78] Distempers of
the Soul, and does other mysterious and most miraculous Works, of
which those recorded in the Evangelists, are but Figure and Parable.
This is the primitive and concurrent Opinion about the true _Messiah_,
which the Fathers universally adher'd to. Whether our _Jesus_, at this
Day, be such a spiritual _Messiah_ to his Church, or whether she does
not stand in need of such a one, is the Question that our _Divines_
are to see to. But I will add here, what I believe, and than have
another Opportunity to prove, that God on purpose suffer'd or
empower'd _false_ as well as _true_ Prophets, _bad_ as well as _good_
Men, such as _Apollonius_, _Vespasian_, and many others to cure
Diseases, and to do other mighty Works, equal to what are literally
reported of _Jesus_, not only to defeat us of all distinction between
true and false Miracles, which are the Object of our bodily Senses,
but to raise and keep up our Thoughts to the constant Contemplation of
_Jesus_'s spiritual, mysterious, and most miraculous Works, which are
the Object of our Understandings, and loudly bespeak the Power,
Wisdom, and Goodness of God; and which are to be the absolute
Demonstration of _Jesus_'s divine Authority and _Messiahship_ to the
Conversion of _Jews_ and _Infidels_.

I have no more to do at present, but, like a _Moderator_, to conclude
with a short Address and Exhortation to _Infidels_ and _Apostates_,
the two contending Parties in the present Controversy. And

_First_, To _Apostates_, I mean the Writers against the _Grounds_ and
_Scheme_. Whether you, _grave Sirs_, who account your selves orthodox
_Divines_, tho' there is little but Contradiction and Inconsistency
amongst you, do like the Name of _Apostates_ which is given you, I
much question: But it is the properest, I could think of, for your
Desertion of primitive Doctrine about Prophecy and Miracles. I could,
not improperly have given you a worse _Title_, but I was willing to
compliment you, rather than reproach you with this.

But setting aside the Title of _Apostates_, whether it be, in your
Opinion, opprobrious or not; you may plainly perceive, that I am,
_Sirs_, on your Side, as to the Truth of Christianity; and if you'll
accept of my Assistance for the Proof of _Jesus_'s Messiahship from
Prophecy, upon the Terms of the allegorical Scheme proposed in my
_Moderator_, you shall find me your hearty Abettor. Upon the
allegorical Scheme, I don't doubt but we shall soundly drub and mawl
_Infidels_, and beat them out of the Field of Battle. If you, being
wedded to the literal Scheme, will not accept of my Assistance, you
may go on in your own Way, and see the Event of the Controversy,
which in the End will turn to your Dishonour.

You, _Sirs_, can't but be sensible, how those two great Generals, Mr.
_Grounds_, and Mr. _Scheme_, with their potent Armies of Reasons and
Authorities against your literal Prophecies, have grievously
distress'd and gall'd you; and if you don't make an honourable Retreat
in Time, and seek to _Allegorists_ for Help, will gain a compleat
Victory and Triumph over you.

Instead of the Help of _Allegorists_, you, I find, under the
Disappointment of your literal Scheme, chuse rather to have Recourse to
_Jesus_'s Miracles: But what little Dependence there is upon his
Miracles, in your Sense, I have in _part_ proved in this Discourse; and
this I have done (give me leave repeatedly to declare it) not for the
Service of your unbelieving Adversaries, but to reduce you to the good
old Way of interpreting Oracles, which, upon the Testimony of the
Fathers, will, one Day, be the Conversion of the _Jews_ and _Gentiles_.

Whether you, _Sirs_, will be pleas'd with this short Discourse on
Christ's Miracles, I much question. But before you put your selves
into a Rage against it, I beg of you to read St. _Theophilus_ of
_Antioch_, _Origen_, St. _Hilary_, St. _Augustin_, St. _Ambrose_, St.
_Jerome_, St. _Chrysostom_, St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_, St.
_Theophylact_, and other occasional ancient Pieces on one part or
other of the _Evangelists_; and you'll find how they countenance such
a Discourse as this on Miracles, and will abundantly assist me in the
Prosecution of it.

I expect, _Sirs_, that some of you will be ready to rave against me
for this Discourse; but this is my Comfort, that if your Passion
should arise to another Prosecution of me, you can't possibly separate
any of mine from the Opinions of the Fathers to ground a Prosecution
on: And what Dishonour in the End will redown to Protestant and
pretendedly learned _Divines_ of the Church of _England_, to persecute
again the Fathers for primitive Doctrine, I desire you to think on.

But, as I suppose, you'll have more Wit, _Sirs_, than to prosecute me
again for this Discourse; so I hope you'll have more Ingenuity, than
odiously (after your wonted manner) to represent me to the Populace,
for Profaneness, Blasphemy, and Infidelity. If you dislike the whole,
or any part of this Discourse, appear like Men and Scholars, from the
_Press_ against it. Use me as roughly in Print as you think fit, I'll
not take it ill.

  _Veniam petimus, dabimusq; vicissim._

I desire nothing more than to be furiously attack'd from the _Press_,
which, if I am not much mistaken, would give me a long'd for
Opportunity to expose your Ignorance to more Advantage.

Be not longer mistaken, _good Sirs_. The History of _Jesus_'s Life, as
recorded in the _Evangelists_, is an emblematical Representation of
his spiritual Life in the Soul of Man; and his Miracles are Figures of
his mysterious Operations. The four Gospels are in no Part a literal
Story, but a System of mystical Philosophy or Theology.

If you are resolved not to come into this Opinion, I beg of you again,
before you break forth into a Passion, to try to vindicate the literal
Story of the three Miracles spoken to in this Discourse, _viz._ those
of Jesus'_s driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple; of his
exorcising the Devil out of the Madman; and of his Transfiguration on
the Mount;_ which if you are able to defend against the Fathers, and
my Objections, I'll give up the Cause to you, and own my self (what I
am far enough from being) an impious Infidel and Blasphemer, and
deserving of the worst Punishment. In the mean time, I make bold again
to assert, that the literal Story of Christ's Life and Miracles, is
an absurd and incredible Romance, full of Contradictions and
Inconsistencies; and that modern Paraphrases are not only a
consequential Reflection on the Intellects of the _Evangelists_, and
their divine Gifts of the Spirit, as if they could not write an
intelligible and coherent Piece of Biography without your Help at this
Distance of Time; but have even darken'd and obscured the seemingly
native Simplicity of the Story of the Life of _Jesus_. So leaving you
to chew upon this, I turn

       *       *       *       *       *

My Address to _Infidels_, particularly to the two most renown'd Writers
of the Party, Mr. _Grounds_, and Mr. _Scheme_. I should, _Gentlemen_, by
right, salute you with the Title of _Free-Thinkers_, a proper Name for
your philosophical Sect, who are for the free Exercise of your Reason
about divine and speculative Points in Theology. And I had distinguish'd
you by this Title from your apostatical Adversaries, but that I had a
mind to oblige my old Friends the _Clergy_, in giving you a no more
honourable Title than I do them. And I trust you will not be offended at
the Title of _Infidels_, since not only your Writings seem to have a
Tendency to Infidelity; but, if there be any Fault in your Principles,
you know how to charge it on your Adversaries, the pretended Advocates
for Christianity, whose Absurdities, false Reasonings, Inconsistencies,
and foolish Glosses on the Scriptures, have occasioned your Departure
from the Faith in Christ.

I thank Mr. _Scheme_ for the noble Present of his Book, which I
received and read with Pleasure. But instead of one, he should have
sent me a _Dozen_ for the Use of Friends and Borrowers, who are very
curious and importunate for the Perusal of it. For what Reason he
envies the _Booksellers_ the publick Sale of his Work, chusing rather
to give it away _gratis_, than that they should reap any Profit by it,
I know not. Surely it is not to bring an _Odium_ on the _Clergy_ for
Persecutors, as if such an useful and philosophical Piece might not
appear publickly without Danger from them: If so, I hope the _Clergy_
will resent the Indignity, and invite him to a Publication of his
Book, with a Promise of Impunity, which would wipe off the Reproach,
which this clandestine Method of disposing of it has cast on them.

I once almost despair'd, _Sirs_, of seeing such another Piece from
your Quarter. I was afraid the Prosecution of the _Moderator_, would
have deterr'd you from the Press, whereby our excellent Controversy on
Foot must have been dropt: But the sudden and unexpected Appearance of
Mr. _Scheme_, has revived me, and rejoiced the Cockles of my Heart.
Go on then, _great Sirs_, in this Controversy, which Mr. _Grounds_
happily commenc'd; and if you are deny'd the Liberty of the Press, and
publick Sale of your Books, I hope you'll, for all that, as occasion
offers it self, oblige the Learned and Curious with some more of your
bright Lucubrations, tho' you print them, and dispose of them in this
clancular and subtil Method.

It is not that I wish well to your Cause of Infidelity, that I thus
encourage you. You have more Sense and Reason than to suspect me tainted
with unbelieving Principles. Christianity will stand its Ground against
your battering Armour; and the Church of Christ will be the more firmly
establish'd on a Rock of Wisdom, for that Opposition you make to it.
Tho' you will entirely vanquish the literal _Schemists_, and ride in
Triumph over them, yet other Defenders of the Faith, call'd
_Allegorists_, will arise to your Confutation and final Overthrow.

If I am not mistaken, _Sirs_, your Adversaries, the literal
_Schemists_, whom I call _Apostates_, are about making a Retreat, and
yielding the Field of Battle to you. The _Bishop_ of _Litchfield_, the
greatest General on their Side, will not only find it hard to levy
any more Forces in Defence of his _twelve_ literal Prophecies; but he
knows that, if he draws his Sword any more against you, he must attack
too the Authority of the Fathers for the allegorical Interpretation of
some of those Prophecies, already urg'd in my _Supplements_ to the
_Moderator_; or, if the Fathers are neglected by him; they and I,
keeping out of the Reach of his _Bug-Bear_, will treat him with such
familiar Language, as never was given to one of his Order.

Mr. _Scheme_ seems to promise us a Discourse on the Miracles in the
Scriptures; I hope he'll be as good as his Word, and ere long publish
it. This Discourse of mine can't possibly supersede his. As I question
not but his Thoughts and Remarks on Miracles will be very considerable;
so I shall be a little impatient till I see them. But be his Discourse
on Miracles of what Kind soever, I believe it will hardly be an
Obstruction to my Undertaking in Hand, which I intend, by God's Leave,
to go on with, to the Honour of the holy _Jesus_, our spiritual
_Messiah_, to whom be Glory and Praise for ever and ever. _Amen._



[1] Page 44.

[2] Page 53.

[3] Universam porro Sacram Scripturam tam Novi quam Veteris Testamenti
ad allegoricum sensum esse sumendam, admonet nos vel illud, Aperiam os
meum in Parabolis. _In Prasat. ad Form. Spirit. Intell._

[4] Si quidem Symbola quædam erant quæ tunc gerebantur eorum, quæ Jesu
virtute semper perficiuntur. _In Mat._ C. xv.

[5] Omnis languor & omnis Infirmitas quam sanavit salvator tunc in
Populo referuntur ad Infirmitates spirituales Animarum, _&c._ _In_
Mat. _C._ xvii.

[6] Christi Gesta aliud portendunt. _In_ Mat. _C._ xii. Evangelicis
gestis est interior Sensus, _C._ xiv. Hæc licet in præsens gesta sunt,
quid tamen in futurum significent contuendum est, _C._ x. Peragunt
formam futuri gesta præsentia, _C._ xxi.

[7] Quæ a Jesu facta sunt, alicujus significantia erant. _Serm._ 77.

[8] Omne quod fecit Jesus, Sacramenta sunt. _Homil._ 31. _in_ Marc. 9.

[9] Si enim temporalis erat ab eo Utilitas, nihil grande præstitit
iis, qui ab eo curati sunt, _L. V._ C. 12. _S._ 6.

[10] Contra Celsum, _L._ 11.

[11] Cœcum curavit, magnum quidem est, quod fecit, sed nisi quotidie
fiat, quod olim factum, nobis quidem magnum esse cessavit. _Homil._
30. _in_ Marc. 9.

[12] Si humano captu & ingenio consideremus Jesum facientem, & quod ad
potestatem non magnum aliquid fecit, & quod ad benignitatem, parvum
fecit. _In_ Johan. _Cap._ v. _Tract._ 17.

[13] Etsi attestabantur Miracula, non defuissent (sicut & nunc
mussitant) qui magicæ potentiæ cuncta illa tribuerent. _Cont. Faust._
_L._ XII. _C._ 45.

[14] _Vid._ Sanctum _Augustinum_ de _Anti-christo_.

[15] 1 _Cor._ C. xii.

[16] Atque illud ad Rem maxime partineat, ne decipiamur tendentes ad
Contemplationem Veritatis----Arbitrantes ibi esse invisibilem
sapientiam, ubi Miraculum visibile viderimus. _In Serm. Dom. in
monte_, _Lib._ 2. _Sect._ 84.

[17] Interim completur & Isaiæ Prophetia non tantum in corporalibus,
verum etiam in spiritualibus, _Origen_. _In Matt. Cap._ xv. Aperientur
igitur Oculi cæcorum, aures surdorum audient, nam qui quondam divinis
sermonibus rejectis mysticam Sanctorum Institutionem recipere non
studuerunt, libenter eam admittent. St. _Cyril in_ Loc. Is. _Vide &
Sanctum Hieronymum in_ Loc. Isai.

[18] Et nunc majores sanitates operatur, propter quas non est
dedignatus tunc exhibere illas minores. _In Serm._ 88.

[19] In quibus Spiritualibus maxime Christi Persona eminet. _August.
Quest. 2. in Lucan._

[20] Modo Caro cæca non aperit oculos miraculo Domini, sed cor cæcum
aperit oculos Sermoni Domini. Modo non resurgit mortale cadaver, sed
resurgit anima quæ mortua jucebat in vivo Cadavere, _&c. August.
Serm._ 88. _S._ 3.

[21] Historia Scripturæ interdum interferit quædam vel minus gesta,
vel quæ omnino geri non possunt, interdum quæ possunt geri, nec tamen
gesta sunt. _De Principiis_, Lib. 4.

[22] Multa sunt, quæ non sinunt nos simplici sensu dicta evangelica
suscipere. Interpositis enim non nullis Rebus quæ ex Natura humani
sensus sibi contraria sunt; Rationem quærere cælestis Intelligentiæ
admonemur. _In Matt. L._ xx. _S._ 2.

[23] Evangelica Sacramenta in Christi factis signata omnibus non
patent, & ea nonnulli minus diligenter interpretando asserunt
plerumque pro salute Perniciem, & pro Cognitione Veritatis Errorem,
_&c._ _De Quæst. Divers. Quest._ 84.

[24] _Matt._ xxi. _Mark_ xi. _Luke_ xix. _John_ ii.

[25] In Comment. in _Matth._ xxi.

[26] Porro cui curæ est accuratior Inquisitio considerabit, an juxta
dignitatem præsentis Vitæ erat, ut Jesus rem talem auderet facere,
extrudere videlicet Mercatorum Multitudinem, qui ad Diem festum
ascenderant, distributuri boves ditioribus, & tanto populo oves
mactandas per domos familiarium, quæ multorum millium complerent
numerum; atque eos qui in rebus talibus gloriantes producturi erant in
medio Columbas, quas multi emptori erant, ceu in Conventu celeberrimo
convivaturi. Considerabit hic etiam, an Nummulariorum erat non
accusare Jesum contumeliose propter suas ipsorum effusas pecunias &
mensas subversas. Quis autem flagello e funiculis verberatus &
expulsus ab eo qui penes eos habebatur vilis, hunc adortus non
inclamasset totis viribus sese ulciscens? Cum præsertim haberet tantam
multitudinem eorum, qui sibi æque contumeliam fieri credebant,
faventem sibi adversum Jesum? Insuper consideremus, Dei filium
funiculos sumentem; sibique flagellum tenentem ad extrudendum e
templo, annon repræsentet Præter audaciam & temeritatem, inordinatum
etiam quiddam? In _Johan._ Tom. XI.

[27] Præfiguratio futurorum dictis præsentibus continetur. _In Matt._

[28] Admomemur altius Verborum Virtutes in istius modi
significationibus contuendas, _ibid._

[29] In Cathedra est sacerdotii sedes; & eorum qui Spiritus sancti
Donum venale habent, Cathedras evertet, _ibid._

[30] Non habebant Judæi quod venire possent, neque erat quod emere
quis posset, _ibid._

[31] Cathedra autem Vendentium Columbas cur everterit? Secundum
Litteram non intelligo. Admonet Typo ejectorum de Templo hujusmodi
Mercatorum, in Ecclesia Dei Consortium eos habere non posse, qui
sancti Spiritus Gratiam nundinentur. _In Loc. Luc._

[32] Juxta simplicem Intelligentiam--quod ponitus absurdum--cæterum
secundum Mysticos In tellectus Jesus ingreditur Templum Patris &
ejicit omnes Episcopos, Presbyteros, & Diaconos, _&c. In Loc. Mat._

[33] Faciet Dominus Flagellum de Scripturarum Textuum Testimoniis. _In
Zechar._ C. xiv.

[34] Non magnum Peccatum, si hoc vendebant in Templo, quod emebatur,
ut offerretur in Templo. _In Loc. Johan._

[35] Qui sunt tamen qui boves vendunt? ut in figura quæramus Mysterium
facti, qui sunt qui Oves vendunt Columbas? ipsi sunt qui sua quærunt
in Ecclesia, non quæ Jesu Christi. _Ibid._

[36] Vos enim fecistis Domum meum, Domum Negotiationis & speluncam
Latronum, significant futuros in Ecclesia. _L._ II. _Evang. Quæst.
Quast._ 48.

[37] Διδασκαλος ων, ου καταγγελλει λογον, ει μη κερδος εχει, και
τουτου την τραπεζαν ανατρεπει ο Κυειος. _In Johan._ C. ii.

[38] _Chandler's_ Vindication, _&c._ p. 145.

[39] Hoc facto longe aliud significabat Jesus, nec enim illum
tantopere commovebat Templum illud mercimoniis Boum, Ovium, Hircorum &
Columbarum profanatum; sed ostendere voluit Avaritiam & Quæstum sore
capitalem Pestem Ecclesiæ, quam Templum, cujus Religio mox erat
abolenda, figurabat--In nullum Hominum Genus acrius sæviit Jesus, sed
hos ipse sibi servavit ejiciendos, cum videbitur. _In Loc. Matt._ xxi.

[40] _Vid._ Suicerum in Κολλυβυστης.

[41] Τραπεζα, apud Aristophanem est Pulpitum. _Vid._ Scapulam.

[42] _Matt._ viii. _Mark_ v. _Luke_ viii.

[43] _Luke_ xiii. v. 27.

[44] _Spencer_ de Legibus Hebræ, _p._ 117.

[45] _Lib._ IV. De Principiis.

[46] Hanc habeant Causam, ut esset in rebus gerendis futuri plena
meditatio. _In Loc. Matt._ In hoc Typica ratio servata est. _Ibid._

[47] Significatæ sunt gentes quæ multis dæmonibus serviebant.
_Augustin in Luc. Quest._ 13.

[48] Humanum genus ad Adventum Domini vexabatur furore dementi,
rumpens vincula rationis. St. _Amb. in Loc. Luc._

[49] Nudus quicunque tegumentum Naturæ suæ & Virtutis amisit. _Amb.

[50] In tumulis Sepulchrorum; quid enim aliud sunt Corpora perfidorum,
nisi quædam defunctorum Sepulchra in quibus Dei verbum non habitat.

[51] Videntes Dæmones non sibi jam locum in gentibus derelinqui, ut
patiatur habitare se in Hæreticis deprecantur. _Hilar. in Loc. Matt._

[52] Litera est Palea, & frequenter evenit, ut homines hujus sœculi
mystica nescientes, simplici Scripturarum Lectione pascuntur. _Hieron.
in_ Isa. xi.

[53] _Matt._ xvii. _Mark_ ix. _Luke_ ix.

[54] 2 _Pet._ i. 16, 17, 18.

[55] Possunt infideles istam Vocem delatam de Cælo, per conjecturas
humanas & illicitas Curiositates ad magicas Artes reserte. _In Serm._
xliii. _Sect._ 5.

[56] Neque enim Miracula propter Miracula faciebat, sed ut illa quæ
faciebat, mira essent videntibus, vera essent intelligentibus. _In
Serm._ xcviii. _Sect._ 3.

[57] Ἑλεγον την εξοδον αυτου ην εμελλε πληρουν, C. ix. V. 31.

[58] Regni cœlestis Honor prefiguratur. St. _Hilar. in Loc. Matt._ In
Transfiguratione futura Regni Præmeditatio & Gloria demonstrata est.
St. _Hierom. in Loc. Matt._

[59] Αινιγματωδης παροδειξις της Βασιλειας, Anast. in Transfig. Dom.
Υποδειγμα της δοξης εκεινης. St. _Chrysost. in Loc. Matt._

[60] Sex millium scilicet Annorum Temporibus evolutis. St. _Hilar. in
Loc. Matt._ Sic post Sex ætates Dominus a perfectis Famulis
conspicietur. _Dionys. Alex. apud Damascen. in Orat. de Transfig._

[61] Et Moses & Elias apparuerunt in Gloria, cum Jesu colloquentes, in
quo ostenditur Legem & Prophetas, cum Evangeliis consonare & in eadem
Gloria spiritualis intelligentiæ refulgere. _Origen. in Epist. ad
Rom._ c. 1.

[62] Montem ascendit ut te doceat, ne quæras eum nisi in Legis &
Prophetarum montibus. _Origen in Cantic. Cantic. Hom._ 3.

[63] Per nubem tetram intellige opacitatem Legis. _Damascen. in Orat.
de Transfigur._

[64] Vestimenta candida Jesu sunt Sermones & Scripta Evangeliorum.
_Origen in Loc. Matt._

[65] Si quis Litteram sequitur, & deorsum est totus, hic non potest
videre Jesum in veste candida; qui autem sequitur Sermonem Dei & ad
montana, id est, excelsa Legis conscendit, isti Jesus commutatur----
Quamdiu Litteram sequimur occidentem, Moses & Elias cum Jesu non
loquuntur; sin spiritualiter intelligimus, statim Moses & Elias
veniunt, id est Lex & Prophetæ & colloquuatur cum Evangelio. _Johan.
Hieros. Hom._ 32.

[66] _John_ ii.

[67] _Matt._ C. xiv. and xv. _&c._

[68] _Mark_ ii. _Luke_ v.

[69] _John_ ix.

[70] _Mark_ v.

[71] _Matt._ xxi. _Mark_ xi.

[72] _Matt._ ii.

[73] Alia quam plurima his similia in Evangeliis inveniet, quicunque
attentius legerit. _Origen. de Principiis_, lib. iv.

[74] Quæ Enarratio erit Evangelii sensibilis, nisi accommodetur ad
intelligible & spirituale? Nulla sane, _Origen. is Præfat. ad Johan.

[75] _See Archbishop_ Wake's _Manuscript Letter to Mr._ Chandler,
_which is handed about Town and Country_.

[76] Chandler's _Vindication_, &c. p. 81.

[77] Dominus noster ea quæ faciebat corporaliter, etiam spiritualiter
volebat intelligi, _&c. August. Serm._ xcviii. _Sect._ 3.

[78] Quos in corporibus morbos sanavit Christus, hi in animabus
existunt, & supernam ejus opem requirunt. _Johan. Nepos. Hieros._ Hom.

                                A SECOND
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

                   In VIEW of the present Controversy
                     between INFIDELS and

              _Audendum est, ut illustrata Veritas pateat,
                multique ab Errore liberentur._ Lactant.

                      By THOMAS WOOLSTON, sometime
               Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.


          Printed for the Author, Sold by him in _Bell-Alley_,
            _Coleman-Street_, and by the Booksellers of
            _London_ and _Westminster_. 1727.

                         [Price One Shilling.]


                                 TO THE
                      Right Reverend Father in God
                      Lord BISHOP of _Lichfield_.


Your Fame for that celebrated Book, call'd the _Defence of
Christianity_, is the Occasion of this Dedication. I need not tell you,
what vast Reputation you have acquired by it: You have been not only
often applauded from the Press, but have met with large Compliments and
Thanks from your Clergy for it. And tho' Mr. _Scheme_ has very
untowardly written against you, yet this is _still_ your Honour, that
you are an _Author_, not unworthy of his Regard and Notice.

I am, in Opinion with the Fathers, against an establish'd Hire for
the Priesthood, thinking it of disservice to true Religion: But when
I consider'd the Usefulness of your Lordship's Episcopal Riches and
Honours to this Controversy, I almost chang'd my Mind. Your exalted
Station in the Church, has given Credit and Authority to your Work,
which, if it had came from the Hands of a poor Priest, had never been
so much admir'd; neither would Mr. _Scheme_, I believe, nor my self,
have paid so many Respects to it.

For this Reason, I wish some more of your _Order_ would appear in this
Controversy, that the World might see what famous Men are our
_Bishops_, and of what Use their _Hundreds_ and _Thousands_ a Year are
to the Defence of Christianity; which, if such able Hands were not
amply hired to its Support, might be in Danger, as certainly as, that
Men of low Fortunes must needs be Men of poor Parts, little Learning,
and slender Capacities to write in Vindication of it.

Some have conceiv'd Hopes that the great _Bishop_ of _London_, from
his last Charge to his _Clergy_, will second you in this Controversy;
if so, there's no doubt on't, but his Performance will be commensurate
to his State and Revenues. Of his Zeal in the Controversy, he has
already given a notable Instance, when he prosecuted the _Moderator_;
and I dare say, he'll vouchsafe us a more remarkable Specimen of his
Knowledge in it, as soon as he can spare Time for't; and then (Oh my
Fears!) he'll pay me off for my Objection against Christ's
Resurrection, which he would have persuaded the Civil Magistrate to
have done for him.

But whether the _Bishop_ of _London_ seconds you or not, it's Time,
_my Lord_, to expect another Volume from you, in Answer to Mr.
_Scheme_, which, for all the Reports that are spread of your intended
Silence, I hope soon to see publish'd. What will the People say, if
that _Philisthin_ goes off, giving you the last Blow in the
Controversy? Nothing less than that he has gotten the better of the
Learned _Bishop_ of _Lichfield_, and has refuted Christianity to the
Conviction of the Bishop himself, who would renounce it too, but for
the temporal Advantages he enjoys by it.

Think, _my Lord_, on the Dishonour of such Reflections, and resume
Courage against the Adversary. I look upon you as a more sturdy
Gladiator than for one Cut on the Pate, to quit the Stage of Battle.
Tho' Mr. _Scheme_ has unluckily hit you on a soft Place, and weaken'd
your Intellectuals for a while; yet he is a generous Combatant, and
gives you Time to recover your wonted Strength of Reason. At him again
then, _my Lord_, and fear not, in your Turn, to give him such a
Home-Thrust, as will pierce his unbelieving Heart.

And when your _Lordship_ engages him again from the _Press_, I hope
you'll be more explicite for Liberty of Debate. Through godly Zeal for
_Church_, you unhappily made a Slip, in your _Dedication_ to the _King_,
on the persecuting Side of the Question, which had lik'd to have sully'd
the Glory of your whole Work. Such a grand Philosopher, as you are,
should trust alone to the Goodness of your Cause, and the Strength of
your Reasonings, in Defence of it: Such a potent Champion for
Christianity, as you are, should disdain the Assistance of any, but of
God, to fight for you. The Use of the Civil Sword on your Side, is not
only a Disparagement to your Parts, but a Disgrace to our Religion.

I know not what your _Lordship_ may think on't, but the Prosecution of
the _Moderator_ was, in the Judgment of others, more than of my self,
some Reproach to you: Because of a few slender Animadversions, I made
on your renown'd Book, some think I suffer'd a Prosecution, which you,
in Honour, should have discourag'd. I am willing to acquit you as much
as may be; and would, if I could, impute it to your Forgetfulness,
rather than your Malice, that you step'd not between me and Danger.

Whether this Discourse will be acceptable to your Lordship, is
somewhat uncertain; I am afraid it will be a little disgustful to
your nice and delicate Taste in Theology, which relishes nothing
better than the plain and ordinary Food of the Letter of _Christ_'s
Miracles: But however, you will readily interpret this _Dedication_ to
your Honour, and if you should make me a large present of Gold for it,
I sincerely assure your _Lordship_, it will be more than I aim'd at;
neither do I desire any other Return for it, than to be endulg'd the
Liberty and Pleasure to pay my customary Respects to your Writings;
and upon proper Occasions to testify to the World, how much I am,

[Sidenote: London, _October_ 13^{th} 1727.]

       The Admirer of
        Your Wit, Learning
          and Orthodoxy,
  _Thomas Woolston_.


                                A SECOND
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

I here publish another _Discourse_ on our Saviour's Miracles, which I
am not only oblig'd to, by the Promise I made in my former; but am
encouraged to it by the Reception which _that_ met with. If any of our
_Clergy_ were, and besides them, few or none could be offended at my
former _Discourse_, they should have printed their Exceptions to it,
and, if possible, their Confutation of it, which might perhaps have
prevented me the giving them any more Trouble of this Kind.

In my former _Discourse_ I fairly declar'd, that if the _Clergy_ could
disprove my Arguments against the _Letter_, and for the _Spirit_ of
the Miracles I there took to task, I would not only desist from the
Prosecution of my Design, but own my self an impious _Infidel_ and
_Blasphemer_, and deserving of the worst Punishment: But since they
are all mute and silent, even in this Cause, which in Honour and
Interest they should have spoken out to, they ought not to be angry,
if I proceed in it. I have given them time enough to make a Reply, if
they had been of Ability to do it: What must I think then upon their
Silence? Nothing less than that my Cause is impregnable, and my
Arguments and Authorities in Defence of it irrefragable; and though
they don't professedly yield to the Force of them; yet they have
nothing to say in Abatement of their Strength, or it had certainly
seen the Light before now.

I go on then in my undertaking to write against the literal Story of
our Saviour's Miracles, and against the Use that is commonly made of
them to prove his divine Authority and Messiahship: And this I do, I
solemnly again declare it, not for the Service of Infidelity, but for
the Honour of the Holy Jesus, and to reduce the _Clergy_ to the good
_old Way_, and the _only Way_ of proving his Messiahship, and that is,
by the allegorical Interpretation of the Law and the Prophets.
Therefore, without any more Preamble, I resume again the Consideration
of the three Heads of Discourse, before proposed to be treated on to
this Purpose. And they are,

I. To shew, That the Miracles of healing all manner of Bodily
Diseases, which _Jesus_ was justly fam'd for, are none of the proper
Miracles of the _Messiah_, neither are they so much as a good Proof of
his divine Authority to found a Religion.

II. That the literal History of many of the Miracles of _Jesus_, as
recorded by the _Evangelists_, does imply Absurdities, Improbabilities,
and Incredibilities; consequently they, either in whole or in part, were
never wrought, as they are commonly believed now-a-days, but are only
related as prophetical and parabolical Narratives of what would be
mysteriously, and more wonderfully done by him.

III. To consider, what _Jesus_ means, when he appeals to his Miracles,
as to a Testimony and Witness of his divine Authority; and to shew
that he could not properly and ultimately refer to those, he then
wrought in the _Flesh_, but to those mystical ones, which he would do
in the _Spirit_, of which those wrought in the Flesh are but mere
Types and Shadows.

I have already spoken, what I then thought sufficient to the first of
these Heads; and though I could now much enlarge my Reasons, and
multiply Authorities upon it to the same Purpose; yet I shall not do
it; but only, by Way of Introduction to my following _Discourse_, say,
that if it had been intended by our Saviour, that any rational
Argument for his divine Authority and _Messiahship_ should be urged
from his miraculous healing Power; the Diseases which he cured, would
have been accurately described, and his Manner of Operation so
cautiously express'd, as that we might have been sure the Work was
supernatural, and out of the Power of Art and Nature to perform: But
the _Evangelists_ have taken no such Care in their Narrations of
Christ's Miracles. As for Instance, _Jesus_ is supposed often
miraculously to cure _Lameness_; but there is no Account of the nature
and degree of Lameness he cured; nor are we certain, whether the Skill
of a _Surgeon_, or Nature it self, could not have done the Work
without his Help. If the _Evangelists_ had told us of Men, that wanted
one or both their Legs, (and such miserable Objects of Christ's Power
and Compassion, were undoubtedly in those Days as well as in ours) and
how _Jesus_ commanded Nature to extend itself to the entire Reparation
of such Defects; here would have been stupendous Miracles indeed,
which no Scepticism, nor Infidelity itself could have cavill'd at; nor
could I, nor the Fathers themselves have told how to allegorize, and
make Parables of them. But there is no _such_ Miracle recorded of
Christ, nor any thing equal to it; so far from it, that the best and
greatest Miracles of _Jesus_, which must confessedly be those related
at large, (for no Body can suppose he did greater than those more
particularly specify'd) are liable to exception, being so blindly, and
lamely, and imperfectly reported, as that, by Reasonings upon the
Letter of the Stories of them, they may be dwindled away, and reduced
to no Wonders, which brings me to treat again on the

II. Second Head of my Discourse, and that is, to shew, that the
literal History of the Miracles of _Jesus_, as recorded in the
_Evangelists_, does imply Absurdities, Improbabilities and
Incredibilities; consequently they, in whole or in part, were never
wrought, but are only related as parabolical Narratives of what would
be mysteriously, and more wonderfully done by him.

To this Purpose I, in my former Discourse, took into Examination
_three_ of the Miracles of Jesus, _viz._ those, of _his driving the
Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple_; Of _his exorcising the Devils
out of the Madmen, and sending them into the Herd of Swine;_ and _Of
his Transfiguration on the Mount_. How well I perform'd on these
Miracles which have been admired for their literal Story, let others
judge and say.

I now will take into Consideration three others of _Jesus_'s Miracles,
_viz._ those, Of _his healing a Woman that was afflicted with an Issue
of Blood, twelve Years_; Of _his curing the Woman that labour'd under
a Spirit of Infirmity, eighteen Years_; and Of _his telling the_
Samaritan _Woman her Fortune of having had five husbands, and living
then in Adultery with another Man_: Which are, all three, reputedly
most miraculous and admired Stories. The two former, they say, are
Arguments of _Jesus_'s mighty Power; and the latter, of his immense
Knowledge: But how little of certain Power and Knowledge there is in
any of them, according to the Letter, will be seen in the sequel of
this Discourse. Infidels, I dare say, if they had not wanted Liberty,
would e'er now have facetiously exposed those Stories. If I snatch
that Work out of their Hands, our _Clergy_ ought to be glad, because
what I do in it, is to the Honour of the Holy _Jesus_, and to turn
those pretendedly miraculous Stories into divine Mysteries.

In my former Discourse I gave my _Readers_ some Reason to expect, that
in _this_ I would treat on some of _Jesus_'s Miracles, which I there
mentioned, _viz._ _On his turning Water into Wine at a Marriage in_
Cana _of_ Galilee; and _On his feeding of Thousands with a few Loaves
and Fishes in the Wilderness_; and _On his Cure of the Paralytick, for
whom the Roof of the House was broken up to let him down into the Room
where_ Jesus _was_, &c. And I then really did design to speak to these
Miracles, but upon Consideration, finding them most ludicrous Subjects
according to the Letter, I forbear it at present, having no
Inclination to put the _Clergy_ quite out of all Temper. If any should
say, this is Fear and Cowardice in me, I can't help it: But, for all
that, now I have the _Clergy_ in a tolerable good Humour for Liberty,
I'll endeavour to keep them in it, and not disturb them by an hasty
and unnecessary Provocation of them. Who knows not, that the _Clergy_,
like an untamed _Colt_, that I have a mind to ride, may be apt to
winch and kick, and may give me a Fall before I come at the end of my
Journey, to the Disappointment of my Readers? They shall therefore be
gently handled and stroak'd, till they are a little more inur'd to the
Bit and Saddle: And for their Sakes will I postpone such Miracles as
are most obnoxious to Ridicule, and at present chuse the aforesaid
_three_, that of almost any in the Gospel may be most inoffensively
treated on. I begin then,

1. To speak to that Miracle of _Jesus_'s[79] healing a _Woman diseased
with an Issue of Blood, twelve Years_. To please our _Divines_, I will
allow as much of the Truth of the Letter of this Story, as they can
desire. The Fathers themselves, who are for turning the whole History
of _Jesus_'s Life into Allegory and Mystery, don't deny that a Woman
was cured of an _Hæmorrhage_, after the Manner that is here described
by the Evangelists. St. _Augustin_ says[80] of this Miracle, _that it
was done, as it is related_; and I have a greater Veneration for his
Authority, than to gainsay it. But for all that, _Infidels_ may and
will take into Examination the nature of this Miracle, and if possible
make little or nothing of it. And if I do this for them, it is not to
do Service to Infidelity, but to turn Mens Heads to the mystical Use
of it, for which it is recorded.

As there is a particular Narration of this Miracle, among the few
others, that are specified; so Reason should tell us, that if the
Letter of the Story of _Christ_'s Miracles, as our _Divines_ hold, is
only to be regarded, this is one of the greatest that Jesus wrought,
or it would not be related by itself, but thrown into the Lump of all
manner of Diseases, which He heal'd. And how then shall we come to the
Knowledge of the greatness of this Miracle? Why, there are but two
Ways to it, and they are,

_First_, By considering the nature of the Disease, or the lamentable
Condition of the Patient before Cure. And

_Secondly_, By considering the Manner or Means by which the Cure was

If one or both of these Considerations don't manifest the Certainty of
a Miracle, _Infidels_ may conclude there was none in it.

_First_, As to the nature of the Disease of this Woman, we are much in
the Dark about it, and very uncertain of what Kind and Degree it was.
St. _Matthew_ writing of it, says the Woman was αιμορροουσα, that is,
_obnoxious to bleeding_; St. _Mark_ and St. _Luke_ say of her, that
ουσα εν ρευματε αιματος, she was in an efflux or running of Blood. But
neither one nor the other of the _Evangelists_ signify of what Degree
her _Hæmorrhage_ was, nor from what part of her Body it proceeded, nor
how often or seldom she was addicted to it. It might be, for ought we
know, only a little bleeding at the Nose, that now and then she was
subject to: Or it might be an obnoxiousness to an Evacuation of Blood
by Siege or Urine: Or it was, not improbably, of the menstruous Kind.
Any of these might be the Case of this Woman for what's written; and I
don't find that any of our _Divines_ have determined of what sort it
was. But a great Miracle is wrought, they think, in her Cure, without
knowing the Disease; which _Infidels_ will say is asserted at Random
and without Reason, in as much as it is necessary to know the nature
of the Distemper, or none truly and properly can say, there was a
great, much less a miraculous Cure wrought.

But supposing this _Hæmorrhage_ proceeded from what Part of the Body
our _Divines_ think fit; How will they make a grievous Distemper of it
in order to a Miracle? The Woman subsisted too long under her Issue of
Blood, and bore it too well, for any to make her Case very grievous.
_Beza_[81] will have it, that is was a constant and incessant Effusion
of Blood that the Woman labour'd with. But this could not be, nor was
it possible, as I suppose _Physicians_ will agree, for Nature to
endure it so long, or the Woman to live twelve Days, much less twelve
Years under it.

No more then, than some slight Indisposition can reasonably and
naturally be made of this Woman's Distemper. And it would be well, if
Infidels would rest here with their Objections against it. But what if
they should say, that this _Hæmorrhage_ was rather of Advantage to the
Health of the Patient, than of Danger to her, and that the Woman was
more _nice_ than _wise_, or she would never have sought so much for
Help and Cure of it? Some _Hæmorrhages_ are better kept open than
stop'd and dry'd up; and if _Infidels_ should say, that _this_ was a
Preservative of the Life of the Woman, like an _Issue_, at which
Nature discharges itself of bad Humours, Who can contradict them? Nay,
if they should say that _Jesus_'s Cure of this Woman's _Hæmorrhage_
was a Precipitation of her Death, for she died some time after it,
rather than a Prolongation of her Life, for she lived twelve Years
under it, and was of good Strength, when she applied to our Saviour
for Cure, or she could never have born the press of the People to come
at him; Who can gainsay them? It is true she was very sollicitous for
a Cure, and uneasy under her Distemper, or she would never have spent
all she had on _Physicians_; which is a Sign, some may say, that her
Disease was grievous, irksome, and dangerous, as well as incurable by
Art. But _Infidels_ will say, not so; for there are some slight
cutaneous Distempers, sometimes issuing with a little purulent and
bloody Matter, that nice Women will be at a great Expence for Relief,
and are always tampering, and often advising about them, though to no
Purpose: And if they should say that this was the worth of the Case of
this Woman, Who can disprove it?

In short then here is an uncertain Distemper both in Nature and
Degree; how then can there be any Certainty of a Miracle in the Cure
of it? Mr. _Moore_, the _Apothecary_, accurately describes the
Diseases he pretends to have cured; and he is in the right on't so to
do, or he could not recommend his Art, and aggrandize his own Fame. So
the Bodily Disease of this Woman should have been clearly and fully
represented to our Understanding, or we can form no Conception of
Christ's Power in the Cure of it. And I can't but think that the
_Evangelists_, especially St. _Luke_ the _Physician_, had made a
better Story of this Woman's Case, if Christ's Authority and Power had
been to be urg'd from the Letter of it. It's enough to make us think,
Christ cured no extraordinary and grievous Maladies, or the
_Evangelists_ would never have instanced in this, that so much
Exception is to be made to. As then, reasonably speaking, there was no
extraordinary Disease in this Woman cured, and consequently no great
Miracle wrought; so let us now,

_Secondly_, Consider the Manner of the Cure, and whether any Miracle
is to be thence proved. _The Woman said within her self,[82] that if
she could but touch the Hem of Jesus's Garment, she should be made
whole._ And I can't but commend her, at this distance of Time, for the
Power of her Faith, Persuasion, or Imagination in the Case, which was
a good Preparative for Relief, and without which, it's certain, she
had continued under her Disease. The Power of Imagination, it's well
known, will work Wonders, see Visions, produce Monsters, and heal
Diseases, as Experience and History doth testify. There being many
Instances to be given of Cures performed by frivolous Applications,
Charms, and Spells, which are unaccountable any other Way, than by the
Imagination of the Patient. Against the Reason and Judgment of a
_Physician_, sometimes the diseased will take his own Medicines and
Benefit. And I don't doubt, but Stories may be told of Cures wrought,
the Imagination of the Patient helping, by as mean a Trifle, as the
Touch of Christ's Garments, and no Miracle talk'd on for it. Even in
the ordinary, natural, and rational Use of Physick, it is requisite,
that the Patient have a good Opinion of his _Physician_ and of his
Medicines. A good Heart in the Sick, tends not only to his Support,
but helps the Operation of Prescriptions. As despair and dejection of
Mind sometimes kills, where otherwise reasonably speaking, proper
Medicines would cure; so a good Conceit in the Patient at other times,
whether the Medicines be pertinent or not, is almost all in all. And
if Infidels should say that this was the Case of this Woman in the
Gospel; if they should say as St. _John of Jerusalem_[83] did, _that
her own Imagination cured herself_; and should urge the Probability of
it, because _Jesus_ could do no Cures and[84] Miracles against
Unbelief, Who can help it? In this Case our _Divines_ must prove, that
this Woman's _Hæmorrhage_ was of that kind, that no Faith nor Fancy
in herself could help her without the Divine Power; but this is
impossible for them to do, unless there had been a more certain
Description of her Disease, than the _Evangelists_ have given of it.

Our _Divines_ will indeed tell us, what I believe, that it was the
Divine Power co-operating with the Faith and Imagination of the Woman
that cured her; because Jesus says _that Virtue had gone out of him_
to the healing of her: And I wish _Infidels_ would acquiesce here, and
not say, that _Jesus_'s Virtue hung very loose on him, or the Woman's
Faith, like a Fascination, could never have extracted it against his
Will and Knowledge: But what if they should say, that _Jesus_, being
secretly appriz'd of the Woman's Faith, and Touch of him, took the
Hint; and to comfort and confirm her in her Conceit, and to help the
Cure forward, said, _Virtue was gone out of him?_ This would be an
untoward Suggestion, which if Infidels should make, our Divines must
look for a Reply to it.

It is said of the _Pope_, when he was last at _Benevento_, that he
wrought three Miracles, which our Protestant _Clergy_, I dare say,
believe nothing at all of. But, for all that, it is not improbable, but
that some diseased People, considering their superstitious Veneration
for the _Pope_, and their Opinion of the Sanctity of the _Present_,
might be persuaded of his Gift of Miracles, and desirous of his Exercise
of it; and if they fancyfully or actually received Benefit by his Touch,
I don't wonder, without a Miracle. And what if we had been told of the
_Popes_ curing an _Hæmorrhage_ like this before us? What would
_Protestants_ have said to it? Why, "that a foolish, credulous, and
superstitious Woman had fancy'd herself cured of some slight
Indisposition; and the crafty _Pope_ and his Adherents, aspiring after
popular Applause, magnified the presumed Cure into a Miracle. If they
would have us _Protestants_ to believe the Miracle, they should have
given us an exacter Description of her Disease, and then we could better
have judg'd of it". The Application of such a supposed Story of a
Miracle wrought by the _Pope_, is easy; and if _Infidels_, _Jews_, and
_Mahometans_ who have no better Opinion of _Jesus_, than we have of the
_Pope_, should make it, there's no Help for it.

And thus have I made my Descants on this supposed Miracle before us
and argued, as much as I could, against the Miraculousness of it, both
from the _Nature_ of the Disease, and the _Manner_ of the Cure of it.
Whether any one shall think I have said any thing to the Purpose or
not, is all one to me. My Design in what I have done, is not to do
Service to Infidelity, but, upon the Command and Encouragement of the
Fathers, to turn Mens Thoughts to the mystical Meaning of the said
Miracle, which I come now to give an Account of.

None of the Fathers (excepting St. _Chrysostom_[85], who writes here
more like an _Orator_ than a _Physician_) ever trouble themselves, when
they speak of this Miracle, about the Nature of the Disease, literally,
in this Woman, or the greatness of the Cure of it; but alone bend their
Studies to the mystical Interpretation, for the sake of which, this
Evangelical Story was written, and originally transacted.

Accordingly, they tell us that this Woman is a Type[86] of the Church of
the _Gentiles_ in after Times. And as to her _Hæmorrhage_ or _Issue of
Blood_, they understand it of the[87] Impurity and Corruption of the
Church by ill Principles and bad Morals, that the would _flow with_.
Some of the Fathers, as[88] _Gregory Nazianzen_, and[89] _Eusebius
Gallicanus_, will have the _Issue of Blood_ to be a Type of the scarlet
Sin of Blood-guiltiness in the Church: If so, we must understand it of
the Effusion of Christian Blood by War and Persecution.

The _twelve Years_ of the Woman's Affliction with her _Hæmorrhage_ is
a typical Number of the Church's impure State for above _twelve
Hundred Years_. And whether some of the primitive Church did not, by
the said _twelve Years_ of the Woman, understand _twelve Ages_, I
appeal to[90] _Irenæus_, to whom I refer my Readers, Accordingly this
typify'd Woman of the Church, should be the same with the Woman[91] in
the Wilderness, that, as St. _John_ says, was twelve Hundred and sixty
Days or Years there sustained; and by whom many Protestants, as well
as the Fathers, understand the Church universal. When the said twelve
Hundred and sixty Days or Years of the Church's being in the
Wilderness, did commence or will end, is none of my Business to
enquire or ascertain. But as this Woman in the Gospel is said after
_twelve Years_ Affliction, to be cured of her Disease by _Jesus_; so
it is the Opinion of the Fathers, that the Church universal, after
_twelve Hundred Years_ of her Wilderness State, will be purified and
sanctified by the Gifts of the Spirit of Christ, and enter upon a more
holy, peaceable, and happy Condition, absolutely freed from her _Issue
of Blood_, which, through Persecution and War, she has for many Ages
labour'd under. It is not my Concern to collect all the Authorities of
the Fathers to this Purpose; but only say, that if at the End of
twelve Hundred and sixty Days or Years, the Church, like the Woman, be
not cur'd of her _Hæmorrhage_ and mystical _Wounds_ and _Sores_; if
her present impure and unsound State be not chang'd into an holy,
healthy, and peaceable one; many good _Protestants_, as well as the
Fathers, are mistaken, and abundance of Prophecies of the Old and New
Testament, that have been hereunto urged, will lose their Credit.

But who are meant by the _Physicians_ of the Woman, that have had the
mystical _Hæmorrhage_ and Diseases of the Church Under Cure all this
while? Who should, but pretended Ministers, of the Gospel? Ministers
of the Gospel are not only by the Fathers call'd metaphorically[92]
spiritual _Physicians_; but our _Divines_ and Preachers of all
Denominations like the Metaphor, and think themselves able
_Physicians_ at the Diseases of the Church, which they are forward to
prescribe and apply Medicines to, whenever, in their Opinion, she
stands in need of them. Whether our _Divines_ like to be accounted the
_Physicians_ of the Text before us, I much question; but it is certain
that[93] _Eusebius Gallicanus_ expressly says, that our _Divines_ and
pretended Philosophers are meant by them; and venerable _Bede_[94]
upon the Place is of the same Mind too.

The Woman of the Gospel is said[95] to _suffer many Things of many
Physicians, and was nothing better'd, but rather grew worse_; that is,
she grew worse not in time only, but through the Use of her
_Physicians_, who were her[96] Tormentors. So the Diseases of the
Church in time have increased, for all the Use she has made of her
spiritual Physicians, _the Clergy_. In every Age has the Church been
degenerating in Morals and Principles, as any one knows, that is able
to make an Estimate of Religion in times past; and all along have her
ecclesiastical _Quack Doctors_ contributed to her ill State of Health.
As many Physicians with their different Applications tormented the
poor Woman; so our many _Empericks_ in Theology with their different
_Schemes_ of Church Government and various _Systems_ of Divinity,
like so many Prescriptions for Cure, have increased the Divisions,
widen'd the Wounds, and inflamed the Sores of the Church. And if the
Woman's _Issue of Blood_ be, according to the Fathers, a particular
Type of the Blood of the Church, that is shed in Persecution and War;
our Theological Pretenders to Physick, have been so far from providing
and prescribing a good _Stiptic_ in this Case that they have been the
Occasion of the Effusion of much Christian Blood; there having been
many a War and Persecution, that these _Incision_ Doctors, who should
be all _Balsam_, have been the Cause of.

The Woman _spent all her Living_, all her yearly Income, upon her
Physicians, and as it seems to a bad Purpose; so very great and large
Revenues of the Church, are expended on her ecclesiastical Doctors in
spiritual Physick: And to what End and Purpose? Why, to open and widen
the bleeding Wounds of the Church, which they should heal and salve
up. It is now about _twelve Hundred Years_, like the _twelve Years_ of
the Woman, that the _Clergy_, our Practitioners in Theological
Physick, have received of the Church vast Fees, Stipends and
Gratuities (for before that time her _Doctors_ prescrib'd freely) to
take care of her Health and Welfare; but unless God provide in due
time a Medicine of his own, she is likely to continue in a diseased
and sorrowful Condition for all them.

One would think that the Woman of the Gospel might have had more Wit
than to lay out all she was worth upon _Physicians_ to no good
Purpose; one would think that after some Experience of their
Insufficiency to cure her, she might have forborn seeing them, and
reserved the Remains of her Estate for better Uses: So the Fees and
Revenues of the Church, after due Experience of the Inability of her
spiritual Doctors to heal her Sores, might have been in my Opinion
better employ'd, and the Church of Christ more out of Danger of Wounds
and Sickness, by Sin and Error. Certain it is, that many an _Issue of
Blood_, through Persecution and War, had been prevented; if such
barbarous and blood thirsty Doctors of Ecclesiastical Physick, had
never been so fee'd and hired to take care of the Welfare of the
Church, which, for all their Spiritual Medicines, will continue in a
languishing Condition, till heal'd by the Virtue and Graces of the
Spirit of Christ in his foresaid appointed Time.

So much then to the mystical Interpretation of the Story of the Cure
of the _Issue of Blood_ in this Woman. Every minute Circumstance of
it is thus to be allegorized, if need was. Whether the _Clergy_ will
like this parabolical Explication of it, I neither know nor care. They
have their Liberty with _Atheists_ and _Infidels_ to believe as little
of it as they think fit; and I hope they'll give me leave with the
Fathers of the Church to believe as much of it as I please. But
whether they approve of this allegorical Interpretation of this
supposed Miracle or not; they must own, that if the Church, after the
foresaid _twelve Ages_, should be purified and sanctified; if her
Errors and Corruptions, of which the Woman's _Uncleanness_ is a Type,
should be heal'd; if War and Persecution, typified by her _Issue of
Blood_, should then entirely cease; if all Christians should then be
united in Principle, Heart and Affection, and made to walk in a
peaceable and quiet State, as the Woman was[97] _bid to go in Peace_;
if the Church should then _come behind_ Jesus (which[98] is a Figure
of future Time) and rightly touch by Faith, and apprehend his[99]
Garments or Words of Prophecy, about which Christians have hitherto
been _pressing_ and urgent; and if the Gifts of the Spirit, like
_Virtue on the Woman_, should then be poured forth upon the Church to
the absolute Cure of her present Diseases, we must, I say, allow the
Story of this Woman to be an admirable Emblem and typical
Representation; and the Accomplishment of it most miraculous and
stupendous; and not only an indisputable Proof of the Power and
Presence of Christ with his Church, but a Demonstration of his
_Messiahship_, in as much as an almost infinite Number of Prophecies
of the Old Testament, will thereupon receive that Accomplishment,
which hitherto, by no shadow of Reason, can be pretended to.

After such a mystical Healing of the _Hæmorrhage_ of the Church, there's
no doubt on't, but the Story of this Woman in the Gospel will be allow'd
to be typical and emblematical. In the mean time, without making a
Parable of the Story of her, I assert, there is little or nothing of a
Miracle to be made of her Cure, unless we were at a greater Certainty
about the Nature of her Disease, and the Manner, rationally speaking,
of _Jesus_'s healing of it. And so I pass to the Consideration of

2. Another Story of a miraculous Cure perform'd by _Jesus_ on another
Woman, and that is on her, who[100] _had a Spirit of Infirmity, eighteen
Years, and was bow'd together, and could in no wise lift up
herself----being bound of Satan_, &c. This too, as I suppose, is with
our _Divines_ a great Miracle, and one of the greatest that _Jesus_
wrought, or it had not been specify'd, but cast indiscriminately into
the Number of all manner of Diseases, which he heal'd. And for the sake
of the Letter, and to please our _Divines_, whom I would not offend
wilfully, I will allow, that _Jesus_ might lay his Hands on, and speak
comfortably to such a drooping, stooping, and vaporous Woman, full of
Fancies of the _Devil_'s Temptation and Power over her; and she might
thereupon recover, and be afterwards of a more cheerful Heart, and erect
Countenance, freed from the whimsical Imagination of being
_Satan-ridden_: And what of all that? Where's the Miracle? If the Story
of such a Miracle had been related of any _Impostor_ in Religion, of an
_Arch-Heretick_, or _Popish Exorcist_, our _Divines_ would have flouted
at it; they would have told us, there was nothing supernatural and
uncommon in the Event, nor any thing at all to be wonder'd at in it.
Taking the _Devil_ out of this Story, and there's no more in it, than
what's common for a simple, melancholy, and drooping Woman, to be
chear'd and elated upon the comfortable Advice and Admonition of a
reputedly wise and good Man. And the putting the _Devil_ into the Story,
in another Case, our _Divines_ would have said was only the Fancy of the
Woman, or the Device of the _Miracle-Monger_, to magnify his own Art and
Power. And if _Infidels_, _Jews_, and _Mahometans_, should say so of
this Story of _Jesus_, they would be no more unreasonable in their
Conjectures and Solutions of this Miracle, than we should have been in
another and parallel Case.

The _Pope_, when last at _Benevento_, is said to have exorciz'd a
_Dæmon_ out of a young Maid, which our _Divines_ no more believe than
_Infidels_ do. But it is not at all impossible or improbable, that a
young Woman might be troubled with Vapours, and go droopingly upon it,
whom the holy Father, of whose Prayers and Sanctity she had a good
Opinion, might relieve with his Talk, and give another Turn to her
Thoughts and Temper: And if she fancy'd herself before possess'd with a
_Dæmon_, or rather, if the _Pope_'s Partizans persuaded her so, it's not
unlikely to make a Miracle on't. Just so may _Infidels_, with their
Descants on this Miracle before us, reduce and lessen it: And what must
we Believers do then? Why, we must find out a Way to ascertain the Truth
and Greatness of the Miracle, or give it up. We must determine certainly
what was the Woman's Distemper, and how the Cure of it by ordinary Means
was impossible, or make no more Words about it.

And how can we come at the Knowledge of this Woman's Disease, but by
the original Words of the _Evangelist_. St. _Luke_ says, she was one
πνευμα εχουσα ασθενειας, _that had a Spirit of Weakness_, that is, was
poor-Spirited and pusilanimous; and if she was συγκυπτουσα, _bow'd
down_ upon't, its no more than might be expected of a disconsolate,
melancholy and dejected Person. Here then is the Disease of the Woman:
If it had been worse, St. _Luke_, the Physician, if he was of
Sufficiency in his Art, should better have express'd himself; so as to
give us another Conception of it. And if _Satan_ had not been brought
into the Tale, whom it is easy, by reasoning as above, to exorcise out
of it, here is a no more grievous Distemper, than what upon the
comfortable Exhortations of a wise Man may be cured. And do what our
Divines can, they can make literally no more of this Story.

It is said, that for _eighteen Years_ the Woman labour'd under this
Disease. And she might be _hippish_ and _drooping_ for a longer time,
and be no less easily at last cured. It's pity the _Evangelist_ had
not told us how old this Woman was, when the Distemper first seiz'd
her; then we could have made better Conjectures about the Nature and
Cure of it. If there was any room to suppose, either from the Words of
Scripture or extra-scriptural History, that she was about _fifty_ or
_sixty_, when she first began to droop and the _Devil_ got upon her
Back; here had been Scope for a most stupendous Miracle; and our
_Divines_ might have asserted, what no Body could have contradicted,
that _Jesus_ had made an old Woman, who was _bow'd down_, not only
under the Weight of _Satan_, but under the Burthen of seventy or
eighty Years, young again; and had restored her to the Health, Vigor,
and Beauty of one of fifteen. Here would have been a mighty Miracle
indeed. And I don't doubt, but our _Divines_ would willingly get into
such a Notion of this Miracle, and would heartily espouse it, but for
the Offence they must needs give to decrepid old Women, who may be out
of Conceit with themselves upon it, as if they carried the _Devil_ on
their Shoulders, as the Cause of their Decripedness and Incurvity. And
such an Offence would be of ill Consequence.

Reasonably then speaking, there was not much in the Disease and Cure
of this Woman. Excepting that Part, which _Satan_ bears, in the Story,
there is nothing wonderful in it. And supposing _Jesus_ might exorcise
the _Devil_ out of this Woman, or dismount him from off her Shoulders;
yet even this makes nothing for his Divine Power and Authority, in as
much as many _Exorcists_ among the _Jews_ and even among _Papists_, if
Protestants had not more Wit than to believe it, could do as much. And
after all, I don't believe the _Evangelist_ intended, that our Saviour
should be had in Admiration for the Letter of this Miracle, or St.
_Luke_ would accurately have described the Disease, so as to put it
out of the Power of Nature and Art to heal it, and of the Wit of
_Infidels_ to cavil at the miraculous Cure of it. Neither do I find
that the Fathers of the Church ever trouble themselves about the
Letter of this Story, which is some Argument, that no great Heed is to
be given to it; but are only curious about the Mystery, for which this
Miracle was related, and which I come now to give an Account of.

As the Fathers said of the Woman with her _Issue of Blood_, that she
was a Type of the Church; so they say of this Woman with her _Spirit
of Infirmity_, that she is a[101] Figure of the Church too.

As the Woman was _bow'd together_; so the Church, as the Fathers do
interpret, may be said to be[102] _bow'd down_ to the Earth, when she
is _prone_ and _bent_ to, and _intent on_ the literal or earthly
Interpretations of the Scriptures; and _can in no wise lift up her
self_, like the Woman, _that is_, can't raise her Thoughts to the
Contemplation of the cælestial, spiritual, and sublime Sense of them.
Hence we see the Propriety of the Name of the Woman's Disease, call'd
πνευμα ασθενειας, a _Spirit of Weakness_, which is not properly
significative of any bodily Distemper, but succinctly is very
expressive of the Church's _Weakness_ at the _Spirit_ of Prophecy,
which at this Day she labours under.

As it was _eighteen Years_ that the Woman was griev'd with her _Spirit
of Infirmity_, for so long had her Distemper been growing on her; so it
is almost eighteen (hundred) Years, or the eighteenth Century of Years,
that this _Infirmity_ of the Church at the _Spirit_ of Prophecy has been
coming on her: And she is now so _bent_ to the Earth of the Letter, that
nothing less than the Hand and Power of Jesus, that erected the Woman,
can raise her to mystical, divine, and sublime Contemplations on the Law
and Prophets. St. _Augustin_[103] will have these _eighteen Years_ of
the Woman's _Infirmity_, as she is a Type of the Church, to be
synchronical with the[104] _three Years_ of the Fig-Tree's
Unfruitfulness. I don't rightly apprehend his mystical Arithmetic. But
this is certain, upon the Authority of the Fathers, that those two
Numbers, with the _twelve Years_ of the Woman's _Issue of Blood_, are
all conterminous and will end together: Consequently at the same time,
that the Woman of the Church will be cured of her _Issue of Blood_, she
will be heal'd of her _Infirmity_ at the _Spirit_ of Prophecy; _that
is_, at the Conclusion of certain grand Periods of Time she will enter
upon a blessed State of _Peace_ and _Vision_; which is the concurrent
Doctrine of the Fathers, as any one may discern, that has dip'd into
them, and is a good Confirmation of our present Exposition, and mystical
Application of the miraculous Story before us.

St. _Luke_ says, that the Woman could not lift up herself εις το
παντελες, _v._ 11. which, without animadverting on our _English_
Translation, should be rendered, _until all was perfected_, or until
the _Perfection of Time_, which, the Apostle[105] and the Fathers
agree, is the Time for the Church to be cured of her _Weakness_, and
to be endu'd with _Power_ at the Spirit of Prophecy.

As the Woman was heal'd by _Jesus_ on the Sabbath-Day; so the Church,
upon the ample Authorities of the Fathers, which Men of Reading will
excuse me the Production of, is certainly to be heal'd of her _spiritual
Infirmity_, at the Understanding of Prophecy against the mystical
and[106] grand Sabbath, which, according to the Fathers, commences at
the Expiration of her eighteen (hundred) Years _Weakness_.

But the _Ruler of the Synagogue is said to be moved with Indignation,
v._ 14. at this charitable Work of _Jesus_, in healing of the Woman,
because it was done on the Sabbath-Day; which in my Opinion can't be
literally true: Though I am willing enough, to please our _Divines_,
to allow as much as may be of the Letter of this Story, yet I except
against this Part of it. _Origen_ says, there are some things of the
Gospel related as Facts, which were not done; and I believe this of
the Ruler of the Synagogue to be one of them. Human Nature, I think,
is not capable of such base and unnatural Resentment. Works of
Necessity, and requisite Offices of Kindness and Charity to Man and
Beast, were allow'd by the Law, and practised by the _Jews_ on the
Sabbath: And the Cure of this Woman, though on the Sabbath-Day, was
such an Act of Beneficence and Compassion in the Holy _Jesus_, that I
can't but think _bad_, as well as _good_ Men, would rather glorify
God, that had given such Power unto Man, than find fault with it. But
in the Mystery of this Part of the Story, there is clear Sense and
Truth. Who then is this _Archisynagogus_, or Ruler of the Synagogue,
that will be full of Indignation at the healing of the Church of her
foresaid _Infirmity_ at the _Spirit_ of Prophecy? _Origen_ says that
the[107] right Interpretation of the Names of Persons and Places in
Scripture is of good Use to the mystical Application. Accordingly
_Archisynagogus_ does signify the _Chiefs of our Congregations_: And
who should they be then but the Clergy? And if this ben't enough to
fix this Name and Character upon them, then let _Theophanes Cerameus_
speak here, who says, that the _Archisynagogus_, is a[108] _Type of
all Priests_, who will be against the foresaid miraculous healing of
the Church. And why will the _Clergy_ be mov'd 'with Indignation at
the curing the Church of her _Infirm_, and restoring her to a _sound_
Spirit of Prophecy? Because as St. _Augustin_ says,[109] they are not
only _bow'd down_ to the Letter themselves; but because this
_Infirmity_ of the Church will be a Reproach to them, in as much as it
is a Proof of their Apostacy and Insufficiency at Prophecy; and the
Cure of it will be attended with such Consequences, as affect their
Reputation and Interests. Who can question but the _Clergy_, who are
the _Archisynagogus_ of the Text, and who are for the Church's
_bending_ and _stooping_ to the low Sense of the Letter of the
Scripture, will be averse to her being rais'd, _lifted up_, and
erected to the Contemplation of the sublime, anagogical, and heavenly
Sense of it? Such an Healing and Erection of the Church will vex them
at the Heart, as it will bring _Shame_ and loss of Interest along with
it; and they will undoubtedly be _Adversaries_ to this good Work of
_Christ_, which, upon the Testimony of all Antiquity, is to be done on
or against the Evangelical and great Sabbath.

Our Saviour is supposed to reprove the _Ruler_ of the _Synagogue_, for
his _Indignation_ at the Cure of the Woman on the Sabbath-Day, saying,
_v._ 15. _Thou Hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath
loose his Ox or his Ass from the Stall, and lead him away to Watering?
And ought not this Woman to be loos'd from this Bond on the
Sabbath-Day?_ There is Force in this Argument according to the Letter:
And the _Ruler_ of the _Synagogue_, and other _Jesus_'s Adversaries
hereupon, might well be _asham'd_ for finding Fault with such a
merciful and beneficent Work done on the _Sabbath_; when they
themselves did Works on the _Sabbath_ of much less Consequence. But
to[110] the Mystery. What may be said to our Ministers of the Letter,
of whom the _Archisynagogus_ is a Type, for their Averseness to the
healing of the Church in like manner? Why, that they are _Hypocrites_,
that is, superficial Criticks on the Scriptures, and don't consider
that _the Law is spiritual_, and how against the Evangelical Sabbath
every Man is to be released from his Bondage and Servility to
irrational Principles (for which he has been like an _Ox_ and an
_Ass_) and to be conducted to drink of the Waters of Divine Wisdom:
For this grand Sabbath will be a Day of absolute Liberty, perfect
_Rest_, immense Knowledge, real Vision and Contemplation on God and
his Providence, as the antient _Jews_ and Fathers so copiously
declare, that they who are ignorant herein, may be _ashamed_;
consequently they might know, that the Church is to be cured of her
_Spirit of Weakness_ at Prophecy on that Day.

But _Satan_ is said to have _v._ 16. _bound_, and, as is supposed,
_bow'd down_ this Woman; the literal Truth of which I much question:
But how then has _Satan bound and bow'd down_ the Church? This,
seemingly, is the great Difficulty in the mystical Application of this
Story, and must be the great Curiosity of my Readers to know how I
will account for it. If the Fathers don't help me out at this dead
Lift, and that clearly and intelligibly too, I shall abate of my
Veneration for them. If they don't tell me, and make me to apprehend,
what this _Satan_ is, that for many Ages has _bound_ and oppress'd the
Church after the supposed Manner of the typical Woman, I had better
have held my Peace, and said nothing to this parabolical Miracle.

The Writings of the _Evangelists_ so abound with Stories of _Satan_,
_Belzebub_, the _Devil_, and of greater and less Number of _Devils_,
and of _Dæmons_ and of _unclean Spirits_, more than any Histories
before, as one would think, if these Stories were literally to be
understood, that was the Age in which Christ came, that _Hell_ first
broke loose, and then primarily infested Mankind; and that upon the
Destruction of _Judæa_ and Propagation of the Gospel, the _Devils_
accompanied the _Jews_ in their Dispersion, or the _Apostles_ in their
Travels, and have been the Tempters, Seducers, and Tormentors of
other Nations ever since.

_Arnobius_[111] says, _That before Christ, Devils were things unknown
to the World_; by which _Arnobius_ must mean, either that they were
hardly talk'd of before, or that their Nature was not understood, till
Christ inform'd us of it. In both these Senses, I believe, _Arnobius_
may be taken, _viz._ that there was not only little Talk of _Satan_
and the _Devil_, but less of his Nature apprehended, before _Christ_
by his Parables and parabolical Miracles, rightly interpreted,
instructed us in it. And if after Ages have departed from the true and
original Doctrine of _Devils_, making a literal Story of that, which
is only mystical and cabalistical; and have formed to themselves
_Ideas_ of hideous and horrible Fiends, _Mormos_ and _Hobgoblins_, it
shall not disturb me.

As to the Place and State of _Hell_, many are the Notions of _Divines_
of several Ages past, as well as of the present. I shall not recount
them all here, much less refute any of them. But there is an antient,
rational, and cabalistical Notion of Hell, which I have learned of the
Fathers, who signify, that the babylonish and bewilder'd State of
Christ's Church may be call'd _Hell_, because, as the Word αδης does
import, it is a State _without Vision_. Hence _Origen_ says,[112] that
whoever can form to himself an _Idea_ of the Church in time to come,
when she will be dignified with the Title of the _New Jerusalem_, for
her Peace and Vision may understand what is meant by _Hell_, and all
that is written of it.

As then the Fathers had a cabalistical Notion of _Hell_, which modern
_Divines_ are Strangers to; so they had of _Satan_, and the _Devil_
and his Angels. I own myself at a Loss for an express Testimony out of
the Fathers about _Satan_ in the Text before us; but according to
their Explications of _Satan_ in other Places, nothing more is meant
by him here than, "That furious Principle and Temper in Man that is
not only averse to Liberty in Religion, but for binding, restraining,
and tying down the Church and Christian People to certain Opinions and
Ways of Worship." In such a State of Bondage has the Woman of the
Church been kept, by such a _Satan_, in one Order of Men or other,
for all Ages past. And that this is a right and primitive Notion of
_Satan_, I could prove by Authorities enough. _Origen_ tells us[113]
of the Names of Kings in prophetical Scripture, which would be Enemies
to Christ's Church; but such Kings never did, nor would personally
exist; their Names, according to Interpretation, standing only for so
many Sins and Vices, reigning in Mankind. To the same Purpose he
says[114] _human Vices are Devils_: And _Satan_ himself, (as the Word
signifies _Adversary_) is with him[115] and the antient _Jews_ too, no
other than an _Aversness_ in Man to the Will of God. I could quote
other Fathers to this Purpose; but being sparing of my Pains at
present, I refer my Readers to my former[116] _Discourse_, in which
they will see the Opinion of the Fathers about the _Devils_ in the
Madman, and afterwards in the Herd of Swine; from which let them
judge, whether the Fathers could have any other Notion of _Satan_
here, than what I have represented. It is certain, and may be easily
prov'd, that by _Satan_, the _Dragon_ and the _Devil_, mentioned in
the _Revelations_, nothing more is to be understood, than a furious,
persecuting, satanical, and diabolical Temper in Man; and if what St.
_John_ writes of _Satan_ be cabalistical and allegorical; the other
Assertions of the Evangelists and Apostles about _him_ will of Course
come under that Denomination; or the primitive Rule of Interpretation
of Scripture according to the natural Signification of the Names of
Persons and Places is not good.

As then the _Woman_ of the Gospel was, as is supposed, _v._ 16. _bound
by Satan, loe, for eighteen Years_: So the foresaid furious Principle
in Man, which is a mystical _Satan_, an _Adversary_ to Liberty, has
bound the Church, _loe_, to the _eighteenth_ Century of Years: But she
is to be entirely released from this spiritual Bondage, and set
at[117] _perfect Liberty_ against the acceptable and Evangelical
Sabbath. And here it is to be noted out of St. _Augustin_, and most
worthy of Observation it is, that at the[118] same time, in which the
Church will be loosed from her Bondage; _Satan_ himself will[119] be
_bound_ and _chain'd_ for a[120] _thousand Years_, the time of the
evangelical Sabbath, that is, says _Ephræm Syrus_[121] for ever. And
how will our mystical _Satan_ or the _Dragon_ be bound and chain'd?
Not with Chains or Links of Iron or other Metal; but _Vinculis
Rationis_, with the Chains of Reasons and Arguments for Christian
Liberty, which will restrain the _Adversary_, _Satan_, from any more
Impositions and Persecutions of the Church. And I can't here but
applaud the great Mr. _Grounds_ and Mr. _Scheme_, for their Work and
Labour of Love to Mankind, in making _Chains_ of Argumentations for
Liberty, which I hope will prove of sufficient Strength to bind
_Satan_ and restrain him (in Dr. _Rogers_, Bishop _G--bs--n_, and
others his Angels) from giving any more Molestation to Christian
Philosophers in their Enquiries after, and Lucubrations on Divine
Truth. All the Honour that I aim at in that Work is, by the Help of
the Fathers, to point out that anti-Christian Principle or Temper in
the _Clergy_[122] which, for its _Averseness_ to Liberty, is called
_Satan_; for its _Calumnies_, is called the _Devil_; for its
_Furiousness_, is called the _Dragon_; and for its _Unreasonableness_,
is called the _Beast_, to the intellectual Views of Mankind, and to
direct them how to apprehend and lay hold on it.

Our Saviour, according to _Origen_, had never call'd _Peter_,[123]
_Satan_, if _Satan_ had been any Thing else than _Man-averse_ to the
Will of God.

And thus have I spoken to the Miracle of _Jesus_'s healing the _Woman
of her Spirit of Infirmity, whom Satan had bound and bow'd down_,
which, according to the Letter, is no Miracle at all; and some Parts
of the Story are improbable and incredible; but the mystical
Completion of it will be most prodigious, and a Demonstration not only
of Christ's Power and Presence in his Church, but of his
_Messiahship_, in as much as a vast Number of Prophecies of the _Old
Testament_, more than can soon be collated to this Purpose, will
thereupon receive their Accomplishment. And so I come to a

3. _Third_ miraculous Story of _Jesus_'s, that is of his telling
(_John_ iv.) the Woman of _Samaria_ her Fortune, _of having had five
Husbands, and being then an Adulteress_, &c. in which there is a
notable Miracle display'd, in the Opinion of our _Divines_, that
proves _Jesus_'s Omniscience, or he could not so have search'd into
the Heart of this Woman, and told her such Occurrences, that concern'd
her Life past. I thought once of transcribing here entirely this
Story; and so I would, but that it is a long one, and might have set
some Readers, who are by this time awaken'd to pry into the
Absurdities of the Letter, a laughing, before I had time my self
regularly to animadvert on it.

Whether there was any Truth at all in the Letter of this Story, I
should much have questioned, but that some Fathers write of it, as if
they believed it literally, tho' they make a mystical and allegorical
Explication of the whole and every part of it. And I, having a sincere
Veneration for the Fathers, will not contradict them, (and I hope this
Concession will please the _Clergy_) but, for all that, can't like any
part of this Story literally, but could almost wish, that the Fathers,
for the Honour of _Jesus_, had made the whole no other than a Parable.

It's strange that no _Jews_ or _Infidels_ have as yet ludicrously
treated this Story to the, almost, Confutation of our Religion. If
their Tongues had not been ty'd by the aforesaid _Satan_ or
_Adversary_ to Liberty, I can't think but they must have made some
pleasant Animadversions upon it before now. If such a broken,
elliptical, and absurd Tale had been told of any other Impostor in
Religion; the Wits of our _Clergy_ had been at Work to expose it
plentifully; and indeed there's no need of much Wit to make this Tale
nauseous and ridiculous to vulgar Understandings.

I shall not myself here make all the Remarks I can to the Disadvantage
of this Story: I am not as yet so disposed to make Scoffers and
_Infidels_ laugh at the _Clergy_ for their Adherence to the Letter of
it. All I shall do now, is to make my Observations on the two Uses,
that the Clergy very seriously put this Story to, and they are,

_First_, to prove the Expectation that there was amongst the
_Samaritans_, of a _Messiah_ to come; And

_Secondly_, to prove _Jesus_'s Omniscience, or he could not have entered
into the Heart of the Woman, and told her, that she had had five
Husbands, and was then an Adulteress. To these two Purposes, I find this
Story urged by our _Divines_, and I must needs say, as to the

_First_ of them; it is rightly from hence asserted by the[124]
_Bishop_ of _Lichfield_ and others, that the _Samaritans_ had an
Expectation of a _Messiah_: But why then did not the _Bishop_ and
others, who are now in Quest after Arguments of _Jesus_'s Messiahship,
prove him hence to be the _Messiah_, because he told the _Samaritan_
woman her Fortune? If this was a real and substantial Argument to her
of _Jesus_'s _Messiahship_, it ought to be urg'd by the Clergy at this
Day. The Controversy about _Jesus_'s Messiahship is now on foot; Why
do the Advocates for it overlook this Proof of it? Why, because, as I
suppose, they are aware, that _Infidels_ would make sport with it. But
if _Jesus_'s telling the Woman her Fortune was no real and conclusive
Argument of his being the _Messiah_; St. _John_ has told us an
impertinent Tale of a simple Woman, upon whose Credulity and false
Notions _Jesus_ palm'd himself as the true _Messiah_; and whether he
did not ill thus to banter and deceive the Woman, let any one judge.

But let us here behold the Difference amongst the _Jews_ and
_Samaritans_, as to the Expectation of a _Messiah_. Some of the old
_Jews_, like the Apostles, expected the _Messiah_ would be a temporal
Prince, a great Warriour and Conqueror of the World. Others[125] of
them, like the Fathers, expected he would be a Prophet like _Moses_ in
all Things, and deliver his People out of another _Egypt_: But here the
_Samaritans_ expected he would be a _Conjurer_ and _Fortune-Teller_; or
there is no Sense in what the Woman said to the Men of the City, _v._
29. _Come and see a Man that has told me all that I have done_,
particularly my Fortune of having had five Husbands, and being now an
Adulteress, _Is not this the Christ?_ What could she mean, but that the
_Messiah_ would be a strolling _Fortune-Teller_, to inform People of the
Events of their Lives past and to come? And _Jesus_ to humour the Woman
in her Conception of himself and of the _Messiah_, says to her, _v._ 26.
_I that speak unto thee, am He._ Whether our _Divines_ like _Jesus_ the
better for this Story of him literally, I can't tell; but I am sure they
dislike the Fortune-telling Trade at this Day in others, and believe it
to be all Fraud, and are for punishing strolling _Gypsys_ for Cheats,
who practice it; and in the last Age were intent on the[126] Prosecution
of judicial Astrologers, who pretended to it: And if antient History had
furnish'd us with an Instance of the Punishment of a pretended
_Fortune-Teller_ in the Reign of _Tiberius_, they could not have found
Fault with it. Whether any Accusations were laid against _Jesus_ for
such his Delusions of the People, we know not. Evangelical History is
silent, or the _Evangelists_ have prudently suppressed it. But I much
wonder, that our _Gypsys_, from this Story, don't account themselves the
genuine Disciples of _Jesus_, being endu'd with the like Gifts and
exercising no worse Arts, than he himself practised.

If the _Samaritans_ did not expect the _Messiah_ would be a
_Fortune-Teller_; how came the Thought into the Woman's Head, that
_Jesus_ was the _Messiah_, because he had told her, her Fortune? What
can our _Divines_ say to it? Why, they must either say, that his
telling the Woman her Fortune was a real Proof of his _Messiahship_;
or that the Woman was foolish and credulous, and drew a false
Conclusion; and if she had not been an impudent and graceless Whore,
would have gone away blushing, and never have divulg'd, as the Text
supposes she did, her Shame to the Men of _Sychar_, who too had but
little Wit, or they had never stir'd from their Homes, to see such a
Fortune-Teller upon the Report of a poor Whore.

But the Men of the City had their Fortunes too told them by _Jesus_,
and they concluded him to be the _Messiah_ upon it; or there is no
Sense in what they _v._ 42. _said to the Woman, Now we believe not
because of thy Saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that
this is indeed the Christ_: What could they hear, but their Fortunes,
as the Woman had before? And if _Jesus_, whose Ability at all fair
Questions in the magic Art I don't question, did tell them their
Fortunes; I hope he had more Prudence than to talk to them in common
of their Fornications and Adulteries, which might occasion domestick
Jarrs, and the Breach of good Neighbourhood amongst them; but if he
directed any of them to find their lost Cattle, and help'd them again
to their stolen Goods, he did well, and they alone did amiss, to
conclude thereupon, _that he was indeed the Christ_. Let our _Divines_
now judge whether I have not made a natural and excellent Comment on
this part of the Story, which relates to the Expectation and Opinion,
which the _Samaritans_ had of a _Messiah_ to come. But,

_Secondly_, From this Story literally our _Divines_ prove _Jesus_'s[127]
Omniscience; and _Cardiognostick_ Power to tell what was in the Hearts
and Thoughts of Man. But how so? Is it because he told a Woman, that she
was an Adulteress, and had had five Husbands? Where's the Consequence?
_Duncan Campbel_, and other _Moorfields_-judicial-Astrologers have done
greater Feats at Conjuration than _this_, and never were thought to be
Omniscient. And for any Thing appears in this Story of our Saviour, it
might be all Cheat and Fraud in him. If _Infidels_ should assert it, our
_Divines_ could not disprove it. If they should say, it was possible for
_Jesus_ to get Intimations of these and other Circumstances of the
Woman's Life, before he attempted to tell her, her Fortune; we can't
say, that this is an impious and unreasonable Suggestion, since it is
the common Subtilty of delusive Fortune-Tellers, to get what
Intelligence they can by Insinuations and Informations, before they
utter their Oracles, and ambiguous Responses to simple poor Folks. And
there is one Circumstance in this Story, that looks very ill upon
_Jesus_, and is enough to make him suspected for a Cheat in his
pretended Art, and that is, he seems to draw the Woman in by a[128]
_Wile_ to hear her Fortune, saying to her, _v._ 16. _Woman go, call thy
Husband_; upon whose denying she had any Husband, Jesus was forward,
very forward to surprize her with his Knowledge of her having had five
Husbands, and living then in Adultery; which raising the silly Woman's
Admiration of his prophetick and soothsaying Talent, he closes with her
Conceptions, and what upon other Occasions, before wiser People, he
was[129] backward to own, says to her, _that he was the Messiah_; and so
he pass'd for the _Messiah_ with her and the Men of _Sychar_, who had no
more Wit than to receive him for such, upon such Proof, and gave him
Entertainment for no less than _v._ 40. _two Days_. I am glad we hear of
no Money, he squeez'd out of them for the exercise of his prophetick
Art, which our _Divines_ would have made an Argument of their Divine
Right to Tythes, Fees, and Stipends for their Divinations.

But no more of this silly Story according to the Letter. To point at
it is enough to expose it to the considerate and unprejudiced. I could
not help saying so much as I have; because it is necessary to form
some Invective against the Letter, to make way for the Reception of
the mystical and allegorical Interpretation of it, which I am now to
speak to.

Tho' the Fathers, against whose Authority I dare not write, or I should
be tempted to it in this Case, acknowledge the Letter of this Story,
suspecting only some[130] particular Passages of it; yet they look upon
the whole, for all that, as a[131] typical Narration, and endeavour at
the mystical Construction of all and every part of it. St. _Augustin_,
as if he was afraid some Christians of after Times should espouse, as
our Divines do, only the Letter, prefaces his Exposition of this Story
with these Words, saying,[132] _There are mysteries in all the Sayings
and Actions of our Saviour, particularly in the Story of the Woman of_
Samaria, _and whoever carelesly and imprudently_ (meaning literally)
_interprets it, will advance erroneous and pernicious Doctrine_; which,
if modern Commentators had any Regard for the Authority of St.
_Augustin_, is enough to deter them from their literal Expositions. The
most literal Interpreter among the Fathers, whom I know of, is St.
_Cyril_, and he says[133] there is a Type and Parable in this Story. But
to descend to Particulars.

By the _Woman of Samaria_ is to be understood an[134] Heretical and
Adulterous Church, which Jesus, _being wearied_ with her[135] corrupt
State, will meet with in _the sixth Hour_, that is in[136] the _sixth
grand Age_ of the World. So, by the By, according to the Fathers,
_Jesus_ will come to, and meet with the _Samaritan_ Church to her
Edification, at the same time, that he cures the Church of her _Issue
of Blood_ and _Spirit of Infirmity_.

And where did _Jesus_ meet with the Woman of _Samaria_? At _Jacob_'s
_Well_, where she was for Water to quench Thirst: So at the[137]
_Well_ of the Holy Scriptures, whose Sense lies deep as in a Well, and
flows with Knowledge as with Water, will Christ then find his Church,
drawing and drinking of the[138] Waters of the Letter, which could not
quench the Thirst of the Soul hitherto: But in the Perfection of Time,
signified by the _sixth Hour_, will Christ, according to the Fathers,
enable her to draw out of this _Well_ of the Profundity of the
Scriptures, spiritual Waters of Divine Knowledge, which will daily
more and more, like the Fountains of the Waters of Life, arise and
flow in upon the Soul, and constantly recreate and refresh her with
Wisdom, to her Delight and Satisfaction; so as she may be said never
to thirst more, after the Manner she does now.

And Jesus _then_ told the Woman of _Samaria_, _all that she had done_:
So will Christ in the _sixth Hour_, that is, towards the latter End of
the _sixth Age_ of the World, give the Woman of the Church to
understand _all that she has done_, according to the Writings of
_Moses_ and the Prophets, who, upon the Testimony of the Fathers, have
written a prophetical History of her, in Types, Symbols and Parables;
which Understanding of the Things that have been prophecy'd of her,
will enable her, of Consequence, to prove and declare to the World,
with Joy and Pleasure, that _Jesus_ is the true Messiah, the Christ,
and Fulfiller of the Law and the Prophets.

But particularly, as _Jesus_ then told the Woman that _she had had
five Husbands, and was then an Adulteress_ with one who was not her
true Husband: So the Church will be made to apprehend, according
to[139] _Origen_ and[140] St. _Augustin_, and others, how she has had
five Husbands of the five bodily Senses, that is, metaphorically
speaking, has been _wedded_ not only to sensual Pleasures, but to the
sensible Things of the Letter of the five Books of _Moses_; and that
at present, consequently, she lives in Adultery[141] with Anti-Christ,
whom the Fathers call the Devil, instead of the Spirit of Christ, the
Spirit of the Law, who should be her true Spouse, whom she should
_call_ for, and believe in.

And not only the Woman of _Samaria_, but the Men of the City,
_Sychar_, believ'd _Jesus_ to be the Messiah, _v._ 42, upon what he
said to themselves as well as to her: So the Ministers of the Letter,
who are _Sycharites_, according to _Origen_ and _Theophanes Cerameus_,
will be clearly convinced, and be able to convince others, that _Jesus
is the Christ or Messiah_, when they shall hear, learn and apprehend
from the Spirit of the Law and the Prophets, that the Church and all
she has been doing, was foretold and prophecy'd of.

Lastly, _Jesus_'s Disciples, _v._ 27. are said _to Marvel that he
talk'd with the Woman_. What in the Name of Wonder, literally, could
be the Meaning of this? Did they _Marvel_ at _Jesus_'s Condescention
to speak to a Woman, as if the Sex was beneath his Care? Or did they
_Marvel_ that he who was very bashful, had Courage to speak to one? Or
did they _Marvel_ at his Conversation with a Whore, for fear of his
being tempted by her? Some one or other of these must be the _Marvel_
of the Disciples; but how absurd and ridiculous they all are,
according to the Letter, let a reasonable Man judge. But mystically,
the true Disciples of our Lord, who understand the Mysteries of the
Kingdom of Heaven, will, when they are apprized of _Jesus_'s spiritual
Conversation with his Church, and of all the Things that she has done
according to Prophecy, _Marvel_ with rapturous Astonishment at the
Wisdom and Power of God in the Accomplishment of the Scriptures.

After such a Mystical and Allegorical Manner, is every minute
Circumstance of this Story of the _Samaritan_ Woman to be apply'd.
St. _Augustin_[142] says there are so many great Mysteries contain'd
in it, that they require much Time to go through them all. I find it
so, and that no less than a Volume might be written of them, out of
the Fathers. But what I have briefly here touch'd on, is enough to
convince any one of the Absurdities of the Letter of this Miracle,
which consisted in the telling a Woman her Fortune, and such a
Fortune, as _Jesus_ by Craft might come to the Knowledge of.
Therefore, for the Honour of _Jesus_, let us look upon the whole Story
as a typical and parabolical Representation of what would be
mysteriously and more wonderfully done by him.

And thus I have spoken to the three Miracles, proposed to be treated
on in this Discourse. Before I enter upon my third general Head, which
is, _to consider what Jesus means when he appeals to his Miracles as
to a Witness of his Divine Authority_; I must take to Task some more
of his pretended Miracles even till I have not left him a good,
credible and substantial Miracle, according to the Letter, to appeal
to. The Consequence of which will be, that his mysterious Operations
are to prove his Authority and Messiahship, or we must give up him and
his Religion for a Piece of Fraud and Imposture.

What Miracles will be the Subject of my next Discourse, I can't
certainly foretell, but there are many Historical as well as
miraculous Parts of _Jesus_'s Life, that according to the Letter, are
to be call'd into Question; such as

The History of his riding on an Ass to _Jerusalem_. I have given some
Offence on this Point already in my _Moderator_, and ought to excuse
or justify my self, by calling the Fathers to Account for laughing at
the Letter of that Story. It was an untoward saying of St. _Jerome_,
that I there cited, and suffered a Prosecution for: But it is a worse
Intimation of St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_, who, if there was any literal
Truth in the Peoples pulling off their Garments, and Branches of
Trees, and strewing them in the Way of _Jesus_, will needs have it not
respectfully but mischievously done, to make the Colt stumble, and so
dismount his Rider. And according to him it may be questioned, whether
the _Hosannahs_ of the People were of any more Respect to _Jesus_,
than the _Huzzahs_ of a _Mob_ would be to the Bishop of _L----n_, if
to shew his Meekness and Lowlyness, he should ride upon an Ass, in his
_Pontificalibus_ through this City. But I have here a momentous
Controversy to decide about the Beast _Jesus_ rode on. St. _Matthew_
seems to say, he rode upon both _Ass_ and _Colt_ together. St. _Mark_
and St. _Luke_ say, he rode upon the _Colt, on which Man never before
sat_. The Bishop of _Lichfield_ says, he rode upon the _Ass_ (on which
Man had before sat) and the _Colt_ ambled after. St. _Cyril_ and St.
_Chrysostom_ say, he rode upon the _Colt_, and the _She-Ass_ trotted
after. St. _John_ the _Evangelist_ says he rode upon a _Mule_, or an
οναριον Ass-like Creature of the neuter Gender. The _Jewish Cabalists_
say, their _Messiah_ was to ride on a great huge _Ass_, big enough to
carry him and all true Israelites, and that the Ministers of
_Antichrist_ would then hang an _A-ss_. So do the great Doctors of the
World differ! To whom I shall decree the Prize of Orthodoxy, I shan't
foretell; but am inclined to favour the Opinion of the _Cabalists_.
However, I shall be very grave as well as learned on this Head: And if
I can, I will, to oblige Dr. _Sherlock_, hook in a Digression about
_Shilo_'s _binding his Fole to the Vine, and his Asses Colt to the
choice Vine_: The Accomplishment of which _literal_ Prophecy seems to
have been drop'd in the Providence of God, or the _Dean_ of
_Chichester_[143] had never stopt at it. I will endeavour to look it
up, in some Corner of History, if it be but to merit the Praises of
the _Master_ of the _Temple_.

I must also sometime take into Consideration the Story of _Jesus_'s
Abode in the Wilderness, forty Days, in Company of the _Devil_, who
tempted him. This literally, as our _Divines_ understand it, is a
Scandalous Story. The _Jews_, in our Saviour's Time, said, that
through _Belzebub_, he cast out _Devils_; and their Posterity have
asserted, that he learn'd the Magick Art of a _Dæmon_. This Story
gives too much Grounds for such a Suspicion. Our _Divines_, who should
know best, talk of abundance of Mischief, the _Devil_ has been
permitted to do in the World ever since; I hope it was not by Compact
and Agreement between them; but it would have been of some
Satisfaction to the Contrary, if the _Evangelist_ had told us expresly
upon what Terms they mett and parted. As Fables go, it is said to the
Honour of St. _Dunstan_, that he took the _Devil_ by the Nose, when he
tempted him; and if _Jesus_ had taken him by the _Collar_, and thrust
him into his _Dungeon_, and there chain'd him, and shut _Hell-Gates_
upon him; I appeal to honest plain Christians, whether such an
_Herculean_ Labour would not have pleased them well. Ever since I read
of _Martin Luther_'s Conversation with the _Devil_, I have had but
indifferent Thoughts of his _Protestantism_; and unless the Fathers
turn this Story before us into Mystery, Allegory and Cabalism, I shall
think ill of Christianity.

I should also take into Examination the Story of an Angel's appearing
to the Shepherds, and saying to them; _Behold I bring you Tidings of
great Joy_, &c. If there was any Truth literally in _this_ Story, and
in _that_ of a Star's appearing to the wise Men, there must be a great
Mistake in the Report of both of them. St. _Matthew_ and St. _Luke_
have both blunder'd. It was the Star that appear'd to the Shepherds by
Night; and the Angel (I speak upon Reason and Authority) that was sent
to the wise Men. What then to do with these two Stories, and to salve
the Credit of the _Evangelists_, I knew not, till the Fathers directed
me to the Use of a mythological _Metamorphosis_: And then I presently
learn'd the Trick on't, to transform Stars into Angels, and Shepherds
too, or Pastors of Christ's Flock (which was the Difficulty) into
wise Men; and so I made one Moral or Mistery of the two Fables.

I must also some Time take to task the Story of the _many dead Bodies of
the Saints, that upon Christs Resurrection, came out of their Graves,
and appear'd unto many_; which is too imperfectly related to merit
Credit. The _Evangelist_, if he would have a reasonable Man believe his
Story, should have told us, who those Saints were, and what Numbers of
them; and whether they appear'd to the converted or unconverted _Jews_;
whether they were some of the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, or some
lately departed Disciples, who, for all _Jesus_'s healing Power, died in
the Time of his Ministry; and whether there were any Women among those
Saints; and whether they appear'd naked (as _Jesus_ modestly did to
_Mary Magdalen_, unless he flip'd himself by _Stealth_ into the Cloths
of the Gardener, which might be the Reason of her Mistake, for she
suppos'd she saw the Gardener) and whether they return'd again to
Corruption, or ascended into Heaven. For want of these specifical
Circumstances, the _Evangelist_ has told us a Tale, that has neither
Head nor Foot to it: and unless the Fathers mystically answer, to
Satisfaction, every one of the aforesaid _Queries_, I'll reject this
Story for mere Romance and Imposture.

These and many other historical and seemingly miraculous Stories of
the Gospel, are some time to be taken into Consideration; for I will
not give this Work over, till I have demonstrated beyond all
Contradiction, that the evangelical Writings are but the Shadow of
Divine Mysteries; and that literal Interpreters, whom[144] _Origen_
calls _vulgar Capacities_, are under a Mistake, if they think, they
understand any Thing, as they ought, of the four Gospels.

I should conclude now, as it becomes a _Moderator_, with an Address to
_Infidels_ and _Apostates_, the great Combatants in this Controversy.
But I have not Room to be as large, as I would, in my Exhortations to
them distinctly, so I can only desire them to continue the Controversy
with Zeal and Vigour, not doubting but it will end to the Honour of
Jesus, the Good of his Church, and the Happiness of Mankind. The blessed
Fruits of this Controversy are already seen and felt in the almost Cure
of a most malignant Distemper, call'd _Bigottry_, which has been the
Bane of human Society, and in Times past more destructive of the World
than either War or Pestilence. Go on then, _Great_ and _Good Sirs_, till
the Cure is perfected. And as you merit Praises and Rewards for your
several Labours; So I hope you'll meet with them. The _Nobility_ and
_Gentry_, of the Kingdom, as I learn, are sensibly touch'd with the
Usefulness of this Controversy; whereupon it is to be hoped the
_Legislative Authority_ will soon give Thanks to the great Mr. _Grounds_
and Mr. _Scheme_ for their Pains in it; and not forget to do Justice to
the _Bishops_ and _Clergy_ according to their Merits. But I can't stay
here to talk more on this Head, being obliged to make an Epistolary

       *       *       *       *       *

_P. S._ To Mr. _T. Ray_, the Author of a _Discourse_, call'd _Our
Saviour's Miracles vindicated_, &c. As I, _Sir_, enter'd the _Press_,
you came forth, or I might possibly have paid more of my Respects to
you another Way. But upon mature Consideration, I found a properer
Reply could not be made to you, than is the foregoing Discourse;
which, if you are not sick of your former Performance, will find you
some more Work. And that you may write more pertinently against this
Discourse, than you did against my other, I'll give you some
Instructions, _viz._ if you think of writing to the Purpose, you must
prove these two Things; _First_, that the Fathers did not hold the
Stories of _Jesus_'s Miracles to be typical and figurative; and
_Secondly_, that _Jesus_'s Miracles neither will nor can receive a
mysterious and more wonderful Accomplishment. But you have not said
one Syllable to either of these Points; consequently have written
nothing to the Purpose against me. As for Instance; In the Miracle of
_Jesus_'s _driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple_: You
should prove, _First_ that the Fathers don't hold that Miracle to be
typical of the future Ejection of _Bishops_, _Priests_, and _Deacons_
out of the Church, that make Merchandize of the Gospel: And
_Secondly_, that it was impossible that the Miracle should receive
such an Accomplishment. But you have done nothing of this. So, if you
should attempt again to write against this Discourse, as for Instance,
against my Explication of the Miracle of _Jesus_'s healing the Woman,
that _had an Issue of Blood_; you must prove that _that_ Story neither
was in the Opinion of the Fathers Typical, nor could receive a
mystical Accomplishment; or you may as well hold your Peace. And
after all, whether your Reasonings for the Letter of Christ's
Miracles, are equal to mine against it, let our Readers judge, who
will easily discern, that you jump over my choicest Invectives against
the Letter, as if you was afraid of being touch'd by them.

As to your charging me falsly in one or two Places, with
Misrepresentations of the Fathers, I'll expostulate that Matter with
you, when I hear that the _Bishop_ of _London_ gives your Performance,
the Reputation of a solid, and substantial one, by a Change of your
_Cloak_ into a _Gown_, which you seem to aim at; or you had never so
besmear'd the _Bishop_ with your Compliments, nor had been so
mealy-mouth'd as to the Point of Liberty.

But what need you, _Sir_, have told the World, that you take me for an
_Unbeliever of the Scriptures_. If the _Bishop_'s wise Prosecution of
me for an _Infidel_ had not given you the Hint, you could never of
your self have made that Discovery. And why did you not join the
Fathers with me in Unbelief? I thought I had been of the same Faith
with them. A Man of your Penetration into another's Principles, will,
I suppose, from this present going Discourse, conclude me to be a
downright _Atheist_. And what must I do then to clear my self!

If you write any more, _Sir_, I desire you, without making more Haste
than good Speed, to be as expeditious as you can; or you will not
prevent my Publication of another Discourse, like these two, to the
Honour of _Jesus_, to whom be Glory for ever and ever. _Amen._



[79] _Matt. Ch._ ix. _Luke Ch._ viii. _Mark Ch._ v.

[80] Factum quidum est, &, ita ut narratur, impletum. _In Serm._
lxxvii. _Sect._ 7.

[81] _On Mat. Chap._ ix.

[82] _Matt. Ch._ ix. _v._ 21.

[83] Non autem Fimbria Jesu, sed ejus Cogitatio eam salvam fecit. _In
Loc. Marci._

[84] _Matt. Ch._ xiii. _v._ 58.

[85] In Locum _Matt._

[86] Illa vero Mulier quæ Fluxum Sanguinis patiebatur, Ecclesiam
figurabat ex Gentibus. St. _August. in Serm._ lxxvii. _Sect._ 8.
Præparatur igitur Mulier, in cujus Typo universalis Ecclesia sub
specie designetur. _Paschas. Ratbert. in Loc. Matt._

[87] Hæc Mulier, i. e. Sancta Ecclesia de Gentibus congregata quæ
lapsu Criminum deperibat Sancti _Ambrosii in Loc. Luc._ Ut Mulier, quæ
fluxum sanguinis patiebatur, &c. ita omnis Anima percussa incurabili
Vulnere Peccati, habens fontem pravarum Cogitationum, &c. _Macarii
Ægypt. in Hom._ xx.

[88] Επιγαζες γαρ την φοινικην αμαρτιαν. _In Orat._ XL.

[89] Quæ est enim hæc Mulier nisi Ecclesia Gentium--Fluxum Sanguinis
patiebatur, quia in suorum Peccatorum Sanguine versabatur; quia
Sanguinum Rapina & Occisione nutriebatur. _In Dominic._ xxiv.

[90] Adversus Hæreses. _Lib._ I. _Cap._ iii.

[91] _Revel. Chap._ xii. _v._ 6.

[92] Excellentes Verbi Prædicatores tanquam magni Medici.--_Sancti
August. in Psal._ LXXXVII. _Sect._ 10.

[93] Per hos enim Medicos, Ariolos & Philosophos intelligere possumus,
quorum persuasionibus cæteri credentes a fidei Veritate aberrantes ad
Animæ Sanitatem attingere non valebant. _In Dominic._ xxiv.

[94] Per Medicos intellige falsos Theologos. _In Loc. Marci._

[95] _Mark Ch._ v. _v._ 26.

[96] Medici Molestiam potius quam Sanitatem ægrotanti præbentes.
_Ephræm. Syri._ p. 63.

[97] _Mark Ch._ v. _v._ 34.

[98] Dei Posteriora sunt novissima tempora. _Origen in Psal._ xxxvi.

[99] Vestimenta Jesu sunt Sermones & Scripta Evangeliorum. _Origen in
Matt. Ch._ xvii.

[100] _Luke Ch._ xiii.

[101] In Muliere infirma est Figura Ecclesiæ. _Theoph. Antioch. in
Loc. Lucæ._ Unde intelligitur illa Mulier in Typo Ecclesiæ a Domino
sanata & erecta, quam curvaverat Infirmitas, alligante Satana, _Sancti
August. de Trinit. Lib._ iv. _Sect._ 7. In Typo Ecclesiæ fæminam
salvat. _Sancti Ambros. in Loc. Lucæ._

[102] Totum Genus humanum tanquam ista Mulier curvatum est ad
terram,--Diabolus & Angeli ejus Animas hominum curvaverunt ad terras,
id est, ut pronæ in ea quæ terrena, superna non quærerent. _Sancti.
August. in Serm._ cccxcii. Qui occidentem sequuntur Literam terrena
sapiunt. _Sancti Hieron. in Lib. Amos, Ch._ i.

[103] Quid illa Mulier octo decem Annos habens in Infirmitate. Sex
Diebus Deus perfecit opera sua. Ter seni decem & octo faciunt. Quod
ergo significavit triennium in Arbore, hoc octo decem Anni in illa
Muliere. _In. Serm._ cx.

[104] _Luke Ch._ xiii. 7.

[105] 1 _Cor. Ch._ xiii. 9, 10.

[106] Ut Deus sex Dies in tantis Rebus fabricandis laboravit; ita &
Religio ejus & Veritas in his sex millibus Annorum laboret, necesse est,
malitia dominante & prevalente. Et rursus, quoniam perfectis operibus
requievit Die septimo, eumque benedixit; necesse est, ut in sine sexti
millessimi Anni Malitia omnis aboleatur e terra & regnet per Annos mille
justitia; sitq; tranquilltas & requies a Laboribus, quos Mundus jamdiu
perpessus est. _In Lanctant. Instit. Lib._ VII. _Ch._ xiv. Dies septimus
etiam nos ipsi erimus quando (Christi) Benedictione & sanctificatione
fuerimus pleni & refecti; ibi vacantes videbimus, quoniam ipse est Deus.
_Sancti August. de Civit. Dei. Lib._ XXII. _Ch._ xxx.

[107] Contemnenda non est accurata circa Nomina Diligentia ei qui
volucrit prole intelligere sacras Literas. _In Johan. Evang. Tom._ 8.

[108] Jam Archi-Synagogus adumbrat omnes Sacerdotes, &c. _In. Hom._ xii.

[109] Caluminabantur autem erigenti, qui, nisi curvi? _In Serm._

[110] Sed nesciebat Archi-Synagogus vel hoc vel illud multo
excellentius sacramentum, quod Sabbato curando Dominus intimabat, quia
scilicet post sex hujus seculi Ætates perpetuæ Vitæ immortalis erat
gaudia daturus. _Venerab. Bed. in Loc._

[111] Ante Christum in cogniti & a solo sciente detecti. _In Lib._ II.
_adv. Gentes_.

[112] Consequens autem est ei, qui cognoscit quæ sit Hierusalem in
divisione veræ Hæreditatis filiorum Isræl, ut intelligat Sermonem de
Gehenna. _In Matt. Ch._ xxiii.

[113] Ego puto quod nomina hæc Scriptura divina non pro Historia
narraverit sed pro Causis & Rebus,--non enim tam Regum quam Vitiorum
Nomina, quæ regnant in hominibus referuntur. _In Numer. Ch._ xxxi.

[114] Quid ergo mirum videtur, si per singula genera Peccatorum
singuli Dæmones ascribuntur. _In Lib. Josu. Ch._ xi.

[115] Sed in alio quodam Libello, qui apellatur Testamentum duodecem
Patriarcharum, talem quendam sensum invenimus, quod per singulos
peccantes, singuli Satanæ intelligi debeant. Evidentius autem & ipsa
Nominis ejus interpretatio hoc idem significare videtur; _Satanas_
namq; Adversarius dicitur. Omnes ergo qui adversantur dei voluntati,
Satanæ possunt dici. _Ibid._

[116] On Miracles, _p._ 36.

[117] Quamdiu vera Pax veniat, & Sabbatismus, & Septem decadarum
Numerus.--Ecclesia non plenam recipiat Libertatem. _Sancti. Hieron. in
Zechar. Ch._ i.

[118] Illa Mulier curvata intelligitur figurare Ecclesiam, quam _in
Sexta Mundi Ætate_ a Captivitate Diaboli Jesus liberabit. _In Quæst._
25. _Dialog._ LXV _Quæst._

[119] Vidi Angelum habentem Clarem & Catenam ad ligandum
draconem.--_In Sexto Annorum Millenario_ hæc Res agitur. _De Civit.
Dei. L._ XX. _Ch._ vii.

[120] _Revel. Ch._ xx. _v._ 2.

[121] Propter Infinitatem Annorum Mille Annos dixit. _In Serm. de

[122] Diaboli Forman assumimus--Leonis Personam induimus &
Draconis,--quando crudeles & callidi sumus. _Origen. in Luc. Hom._ viii.

[123] _Mark Ch._ viii. _v._ 33.

[124] Defence of Christianity, _p._ 8.

[125] Doctioribus inter Judæos notissimum est,--quod Moses qui primus
fuit Salvator Isrælis etiam in omni Vita & Operibus suis fuerit Typus
& Figura ultimi Redemptoris. _Christian. Meyer de Gen. Christi_, p.
145. Judæi Veteres expectabant similem Ægyptiacæ Liberationem, ut
scilicet Pharaoh & omnis ejus Exercitus qui per 430 Annos Populum Dei
Captivum tenuit, in Mari Rubro submersus est; sic etiam Romani qui
eodem Annorum Numero Judæos possessuri, Ultione Domini deleantur.
_Sancti Hieron. in Joel. Ch._ v.

[126] See the Life of _William Lilly_.

[127] See Dr. _Hammond_ on the Place.

[128] Percontando de Viro, Occasionem cepit occulta revelandi. _Sancti
Cyril. Alex. in Loc._

[129] _John Ch._ x. _v._ 24.

[130] Fortasse verum non erat, _Judæos cum Samaritanis Commmercium non
habere_,--ac ne illud quidem verum, _neque Haustorium habes, & Puteus
altus est_,--fortasse etiam neque illud, _quod Jacob ex Puteo biberit,
& filii ejus, & Pecora_ ejus. _Origen. in Loc._

[131] Plena Mysteriis & gravida Sacramentis. _Sancti August. in Johan.
Ch._ iv.

[132] Evangelica Sacramenta in Domini nostri Jesu Christi dictis
factisque signata non omnibus patent, & ea nonnulli minus diligenter,
minusque sobrie interpretando, afferunt plerumque pro salute
Perniciem, & pro Cognitione Veritatis Errorem, inter quæ illud est
Sacramentum quod Scriptum est de hac Samaritana, _&c._ _In Quæst._ 63,
_de_ Lxxxiii. _Quest._

[133] Ως εν τυπω παλιν ημιν και δι αινιγματος υποδεικνευς. _In Loc.

[134] Illa Mulier Typum gerebat Ecclesiæ, quæ ventura erat ex
Gentibus--Ecclesiæ non justificatæ, sed justificandæ. _Sancti. August.
in Loc. Johan._

[135] Tunc fatigatur Christus, quando nullam Virtutem in Populo suo
recognoscit. _Sancti August. in Serm._ xciii. _Appen._

[136] Hora sexta id est, sexta Ætate Generis Humani. _Sancti August.
in Quæst._ 64. lxxxiii. _Quæst._

[137] Puteus est Divina Scriptura, scientia scatens, ut aqua, Cujus
putei Profunditas sunt plena Mysteriis Symbola. _In Theoph. Ceram
Homil._ xxxviii. _de Samaritana_.

[138] Lex secundum Literam est aqua amara. _Hieronym. in Ezekiel. Ch._
xlvii. Qui bibit ex hac aqua sitiet rursus, id est, qui participat
profunditatem humanæ sapientiæ, prudentesque Rationes, receptis
Intelligentiis judicio suo inventis, tamen rursus secundo cogitans,
denuo dubitabit de his in quibus requieverat. _Origen. in Loc. Johan._

[139] _In Locum Johan. Evang._

[140] Quinque enim Viros habuisti, & nunc quem habes _non est Vir
tuus_. Sed non sunt hæc carnabiter accipienda, ne huic ipsi Mulieri
Samaritanæ similes videamur,--Per quinque Viros, quinque Libros Mosis
Nonnulli accipiunt--sed quinque Viri intelliguntur quinque Corporis
sensus. Et quia naturales sunt ipsi Sensus, qui ætatem primam regunt,
recte dicuntur Mariti. _In Quæst._ 64. _de_ lxxxiii. _Quæst._

[141] _Et nunc quem habes non est Vir tuus_; Quia non est in te
(Ecclesia) Spiritus qui intelligat Deum, cum quo legitimum potes
habere conjugium; sed Error Diaboli potius dominatur, qui te
adulterina Contaminatione corrumpit. _Venerab. Bedæ in Locum._

[142] Magna quidem acta sunt Sacramenta, sed augustum Tempus est, ut
omnia pertractentur. _In Serm._ xci. _Sect._ 2.

[143] _In his Dissertation on the Blessing of_ Judah.

[144] Ut Lex Umbram continet futurorum bonorum, quæ declarantur ab ea
Lege; sic etiam Evangelium, quod vel a quibusque vulgaribus intelligi
existimatur, Umbram docet Mysteriorum Christi. _In Præfat. ad Johan.

                                A THIRD
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

                         In VIEW of the Present
                           Controversy between INFIDELS
                           and APOSTATES.

           _Litteratos gravissimo Somno stertere convincam_,

                           The Third Edition.

                    By THO. WOOLSTON, B.D. sometime
               Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.


                Printed for the Author, and Sold by him
                  next door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_,
                  and by the Booksellers of _London_, and
                  _Westminster_. 1728.

                         [Price One Shilling.]


                                 TO THE

                      Right Reverend Father in GOD


                      Lord Bishop of St. DAVID'S.


_In your_ Sermon _before the_ Societies _for Reformation of Manners,
you are pleased to give a Character of my former_ Discourses on
Christ's Miracles; _which, tho' I don't at all like, yet I thank you
for the Favour of taking Notice of them; a_ Favour _that I have long'd
for from a considerable_ Clergyman; _but could not flatter myself
with the Hopes of receiving it from so great a_ Prelate.

_Some of the inferior_ Clergy, _whom I despise for their Ignorance and
Malice, have before in their Conversation represented me as an_
impious _and_ blasphemous Infidel; _and I have met with Affronts for
it: But I never imagin'd that any, much less your_ Lordship, _would
have ventur'd such a Character of me from the_ Press, _for fear of a
Resentment, which would not be agreeable. Surely your_ Lordship _has
not read my_ Discourses, _but has taken a Report of them upon Trust,
from some Ecclesiastical_ Noodle; _or you could never have been so
much mistaken about my Design in them_.

_I took myself to be a_ Christian _of the same Faith with the Fathers
of the Church; and, without Vanity, think, I have publish'd some
Tracts, in Defence of Christianity, equal, if not superior to any
Thing this Age has produced. I repeatedly also in my_ Discourses on
Miracles, _to obviate the Prejudices of an ignorant_ Clergy, _made
solemn Protestations of the Sincerity of my Design, not to do Service
to Infidelity, but to make Way for the Demonstration of_ Jesus_'s
Messiahship from Prophecy: But all these Asseverations of the
Integrity of my Heart, it seems, stand for nothing (and I don't wonder
at it) with the_ Clergy, _who in their Principles, their Oaths, and
Subscriptions are so accustom'd to prevaricate with God and Man. I
shall make no more serious Protestations of my Faith, but expect your_
Lordship _should soon publish a Defence of your foul_ Charge _against
me, that I may see what Skill you have in the impious and blasphemous
Writings of an_ Infidel.

_And if your railing_ Accusation _be not soon followed with a
Dissertation of more Reason, I shall insist on a publick Reparation of
the Injury done to my Reputation by your_ vile _and_ slanderous _Sermon;
and appeal to the worshipful_ Societies _for Reformation of Manners,
whether it be not just and reasonable, you should do one or the other_.

_Now I have laid hold on your_ Lordship, _than whom I could not have
wish'd for an_ Adversary, _that will do me more Honour to overcome, I
will hold you fast; and you must expect to be teaz'd and insulted from
the_ Press, _if you enter not the Lists against me_.

_A clear Stage_, my Lord, _and no Favour. If you have the Sword of the
Spirit in your Hand, cut as sharply as you can with it. I had
conceiv'd a great Opinion of your Learning, and should have been a
little apprehensive of the Power of it; if you had not in your_ Sermon
_betray'd as great Weakness and Ignorance, as could be in a poor_
Curat; _or you had never asserted that the_ Greek _Commentators
adher'd more strictly, to the litteral Sense of the Holy Scriptures;
as if you knew not, that St_. Theophilus _of_ Antioch, _and even_
Origen _himself and others, the greatest_ Allegorists, _if a
Comparison may be made, were_ Commentators _of the_ Greek _Church_.

_The sooner your_ Lordship _appears from the_ Press, _the better, in as
much as you may possibly prevent my Publication of more_ Discourses _of
this Kind. And that it may not be long first, I will accept of a
Dissertation from you, on any two or three of the Miracles, I have
handled, as sufficient for all. Take your Choice of them: but don't I
beseech you, touch the Miracle of_ Jesus_'s driving the_ Buyers _and_
Sellers _out of the Temple, because it is a_ hot _one, and may possibly
burn your Fingers. The Miracles, that I have most ludicrously and, of
consequence, most offensively handled, are the_ two _of this present
Discourse. If you please_, my Lord, _let them be the easy and short Task
imposed on you. If you can defend the Letter of the Stories of these_
two _Miracles, I'll quietly give up the Rest to you._

_So heartily thanking your_ Lordship _for the Favour done me, in
taking Notice of my_ Discourses on Miracles, _which shall be turn'd to
good Use and Advantage, I subscribe myself_,

[Sidenote: _Feb. 26. 1728_]

  _My LORD_,
    _Your most obliged_
      _Humble Servant_,
  Tho. Woolston.


                                A THIRD
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

My two former Discourses having met with a favourable Reception, I am
encourag'd to go on and publish another; which, without any more
Preface, I enter upon, by a Repetition of three general Heads, at
first proposed to be spoken to, and they were,

I. To show that the Miracles of healing all Manner of bodily Diseases,
which _Jesus_ was justly famed for, are none of the proper Miracles of
the _Messiah_, neither are they so much as a good Proof of his divine
Authority, to found a Religion.

II. To prove, that the literal History of many of the Miracles of
_Jesus_, as recorded by the _Evangelists_, does imply Absurdities,
Improbabilities, and Incredibilities; consequently they, either in
whole or in part, were never wrought, as they are commonly believed
now-a-days, but are only related as prophetical and Parabolical
Narratives of what would be mysteriously and more wonderfully done by

III. To consider, what _Jesus_ means, when he appeals to his Miracles,
as to a Testimony and a Witness of his divine Authority; and to show
that he could not properly and ultimately refer to those he then
wrought in the _Flesh_, but to those Mystical ones, that he would do
in the _Spirit_, of which those wrought in the Flesh are but mere
Types and Shadows.

Tho' I have already, spoken what may be thought sufficient, to the
first of these Heads; yet I have several Things still, both from
Reason and Authority, to add to it; but having not here a convenient
Place for that purpose, I defer it to a better Opportunity; and so
pass immediately to the Resumption of my

II. Second general Head, and that is, to prove, that the literal
History of many of the Miracles of _Jesus_, as recorded by the
_Evangelists_, does imply Absurdities, Improbabilities and
Incredibilities; consequently they, either in whole or in part were
never wrought, as it is commonly believed now-a-days, but are only
related, as Prophetical and parabolical Narratives of what would be
mysteriously and more wonderfully done by him.

To this Purpose I have taken into Examination six of the Miracles of
_Jesus_, _viz._ those.

1. Of his driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple.

2. Of his exorcising the _Devils_ out of the Mad-men, and sending them
into the Herd of Swine.

3. Of his Transfiguration on the Mount.

4. Of his healing a Woman, that had an Issue of Blood, twelve Years.

5. Of his curing a Woman that had a Spirit of Infirmity, eighteen
Years, and

6. Of his telling the _Samaritan_ Woman her Fortune of having had five
Husbands, and being then an Adulteress with another Man.

Whether I have not prov'd the Storys of these Miracles, either in
whole or in part, to consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities, and
incredibilities, according to the Proposition before us, I leave my
_Readers_ to judge; and now will take in Hand

7. A Seventh Miracle of _Jesus_; _viz._ that[145] _of his cursing the
Figtree, for not bearing Fruit out of Season_; which Miracle, upon the
bare mention of it, appears to be such an absurd, foolish, and
ridiculous, if not malicious and ill-natured Act in _Jesus_, that I
question, whether, for Folly and Absurdity, it can be equalled in any
Instance of the Life of a reputed wise Man. The Fathers, such as
_Origen_, St. _Augustin_, St. _John of Jerusalem_, and others, have
all said as smart Things, as the wittiest Infidels can, against the
Letter of this Story. St. _Augustin_[146] very plainly says, that
_this Fact in Jesus_, upon Supposition that it was done, was _a
foolish one_. If therefore I treat this Story a little more
ludicrously than ordinary, and expose the Folly of the Fact as well as
of the modern Belief of it, I hope their Authority and Example will
plead my Excuse for it.

_Jesus_ was hungry, it seems, and being disappointed of Figs, to the
Satisfaction of his Appetite, cursed the Figtree. Why so peevish and
impatient? Our _Divines_, when they please, make _Jesus_ the most
patient, resign'd and easy under Sufferings, Troubles and
Disappointments, of any Man. If he really was so, he could hardly have
been so much out of Humour, for want of a few Figs, to the Allay of
his Hunger. But to curse the Figtree upon it, was as foolishly and
passionately done, as for another Man to throw the Chairs and Stools
about the House; because his Dinner is not ready at a critical Time,
or before it could be got ready for him.

But _Jesus_ was hungry, some will say, and the Disappointment provoked
him. What if he was hungry? He should, as he knew the Return of his
Appetite, have made a better and more certain Provision for it. Where
was _Judas_ his Steward and Caterer with his Bag of Victuals as well
as Money? Poor Forecast, and Management amongst them, or _Jesus_ had
never trusted to the uncertain Fruits of a Figtree, which he espy'd at
a Distance, for his Breakfast.

And if _Jesus_ was frustrated of a long'd-for Meal of Figs, what need he
have so reveng'd the Disappointment on the[147] senseless and faultless
Tree? Was it, because he was forc'd to fast longer than usual and
expedient? not so, I hope neither: Could not Angels, if he was in a
desert Place, have administered unto him? Or could not he miraculously
have created Bread for himself and his Company, as he multiplied or
increased the Loaves for his Thousands in the Wilderness? What Occasion
then for his being out of Humour for want of Food? If he was of Power to
provide Bread for others on a sudden, he might sure have supply'd his
own Necessities, and so have kept his Temper, without breaking into a
violent Fit of Passion, upon present Want and Disappointment.

But what is yet worse, _the Time of Figs was not yet_, when Jesus
look'd and long'd for them. Did ever any one hear or read of any
thing more[148] unreasonable than for a Man to expect Fruit out of
Season? _Jesus_ could not but know this before he came to the Tree,
and if he had had any Consideration, he would not have expected Figs
on it, much less, if he had regarded his own Reputation, as a wise
Man, would he have so resented the Want of them. What, if a _Yeoman_
of _Kent_ should go to look for _Pipins_ in his Orchard at _Easter_,
(the supposed Time[149] that _Jesus_ sought for these Figs) and,
because of a Disappointment, cut down all his Trees; What then would
his Neighbours make of him; Nothing less, than a _Laughing-stock_; and
if the Story got into our publick News, he would be the Jest and
Ridicule of Mankind. How _Jesus_ salv'd his Credit upon this his wild
Prank; and prevented the Laughter of the _Scribes_ and _Pharisees_
upon it, I know not; but I cannot think of this Part of the Letter of
this Story, without smiling at it at this Day; and wonder our
_Divines_ are not laugh'd out of Countenance for reading it gravely,
and having _Jesus_ in Admiration for it.

Again, I would gladly know, whose Figtree this was, and whether
_Jesus_ had any legal Right to the Fruit, if haply he had found any on
it, or any Leave or Authority to smite it with a Curse for its
Unfruitfulness? As to the Tree's being _Jesus_'s Property, that could
not be. For he was so far from being either Landlord or Tenant, that
it's said he had not where to lay his Head. During the Time of his
Ministry, he was but a Wanderer, like a Mendicant Fryar, or an
itinerant Preacher, and before that Time was no better than a
Journeyman Carpenter (of whose Workmanship, I wonder, the Church of
_Rome_ has no holy Relicks, not so much as a Three-footed-stool, or a
Pair of Nutcrackers;) consequently he had no House nor Land of his own
by Law, much less any Figtree, and least of all _this_ which he espy'd
at a distance in his Travels. How then had he any Right to the Figs,
if he had met with any? I hope he ask'd Leave beforehand of the
Proprietor, or _Infidels_ will say of him, that if he had had an
Opportunity he would have been a _Rob-Orchard_. And it he had no Right
to the Fruit, much less to smite the Tree with a Curse; where was his
Honour,[150] _his Justice_, his Goodness, and his Honesty in this Act?
The _Evangelists_, if they would have us to think, _Jesus_ did no
wrong to any Man, should have left us somewhat upon Record, to
Satisfaction, in this Case; or _Infidels_, who have here Scope for it,
will think worse of _Jesus_, than possibly he may deserve. Whether
_Jesus_, modestly speaking, met with any Blame or Reprimand from the
Proprietor, for his Act of Execration, none can affirm or deny. But if
any one so spitefully and maliciously should destroy almost any other
Tree, whether fruitful or not, of another Man's, in this Country, he
would have good Luck, if he escaped the House of Correction for it.

And what now have our _Divines_ to say, to all this Reasoning against
the Letter of this Story? Nothing more than "That the Act of cursing the
Figtree, whether it be at this Distance of Time reconcilable to Reason,
Justice and Prudence or not, was a supernatural Work, above the Power of
Nature or Art to imitate; consequently it was a Miracle, and they will
admire and adore _Jesus_ for it." And to agree with them at present,
that it was a real Miracle, and a supernatural Event, yet I hope,
they'll acknowledge, that if _Jesus_, as St. _Augustin_[151] says, had,
instead of cursing the Figtree, made a dry, dead and withered one,
immediately to bud, flourish and revive, and in an Instant to bring
forth ripe Fruits, out of Season, it would have pleased them much
better. Such an Instance of his Power had been an indisputable Miracle:
Such an Instance of his divine Power had carry'd Goodness along with it,
and none of the foresaid Exceptions could have been made to it: Such an
Instance of his Almighty Power, had been a Demonstration of his being
Lord of the Creation, and Author of the Fruits of the Earth for the Use
of Man, in their Season, or he could not have produced them out of
Season: In such an Instance of Power, his Divine Care and Providence
against Hunger and Want would have been visible; and it would have been
an Admonition to us, to depend daily upon him for the Comforts and
Necessaries of Life: Such an Instance of his Power would have been, as
St. _Augustin_ says above, like his Miracles of healing Diseases, of
making the Languid, _Sound_; and the Feeble, _Strong_; and we might more
certainly have inferr'd from one with the other, that both were the
Operations of a good God. But this Instance of his cursing the Figtree
in this Fashion spoils the Credit, and sullies the Glory of his other
Miracles. It is in its own Nature of such a malevolent Aspect, that its
enough to make us suspect the Beneficence of _Christ_ in his other
Works, and to question whether there might not be some latent Poyson and
diabolical Design under the Colour of his fairer Pretences to Almighty
Power. It is so like the malignant Practices of _Witches_, who, as
Stories go, upon Envy, Grudge, or Distaste, smite their Neighbours
Cattle with languishing Distempers, till they die, that it's hard, if
not impossible, to distinguish one from the other, in Spite and Malice.
If _Mahomet_, and not _Jesus_, had been the Author of this Miracle, our
_Divines_ would presently have discover'd the _Devil_'s Foot in it, and
have said that _Satan_ drew him into a Scrape, in the Execution of this
mad and foolish Frolick, on purpose to expose _him_ for a _Wizard_ and
_his_ Musselmen of all Ages since for _Fools_ in believing on him. The
Spirit of _Christ_, who is all Love and Mercy, should, one would think,
breath forth nothing but Goodness and Kindness to Mankind; but that such
a pestilential Blast, like a mortiferous North-East Wind in some
Seasons, should proceed from his Mouth, to the Destruction of another
Man's harmless and inoffensive Tree, is what none upon Earth can account

Our _Divines_, one or other of them, have publish'd several notable
Notions about Miracles, and have laid down good Rules to distinguish
_true_ from _false_ ones; but none of them, as far as I perceive, have
taken any Pains to shew the Consistence of _Jesus_'s Miracles to their
own Rules and Notions. Mr. _Chandler_, (who as the _Archbishop_[152]
says, has rightly slated the Notion of a Miracle) among his Rules of
judging by whom Miracles are perform'd, says,[153] _That the Things
pretended to be done, are to be such, as that it is consistent with
the Perfections of God to interest himself in_; and again, _they must
be such as answer to the Character of God as a good and gracious
Being_; and again, _It seems reasonable to believe, that whenever the
first and best of Beings is pleased to send an extraordinary Messenger
with a Revelation of his Will, he will furnish him with such Proofs of
his Mission, as may argue, not only the Power of him in whose Name be
comes, but his Love to Mankind, and his Inclination to do them good_.
I have no Dislike to these Notions of Mr. _Chandler_; but as it is not
to be questioned, that he (and the _Archbishop_ too) had this Miracle
of _Jesus_'s cursing the Figtree, and some others, as of his
_boisterous driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple_; of _his
sending the Devils into the Herd of Swine_; of _his turning Water into
Wine for the Use of Men, who had before well drank_, &c. in his View,
when he gave forth the foresaid Rules; (for acute and learned Writers
in Theology are supposed to have their Wits about them;) so it is to
be hop'd that he or the _Archbishop_ will soon publish somewhat to
reconcile these Miracles of _Jesus_ to their own Notions; tho' I don't
expect it before _latter Lammas_.

But after all, it may be questioned, if Infidels should go about it,
whether this Work of _Jesus_ was miraculous; and whether there was not
more of the Craft of Man, than of the Power of God in it; or to use
Mr. _Chandler_'s[154] Words, whether it don't _look like the little
Tricks and cunning Deceits of Impostors_. St. _Matthew_ says,
_presently the Figtree withered away_; but this _presently_ is an
indeterminate Time, and may be understood of a Day, or a Week or two,
as well as of the Moment in which the Words were spoken, _Let no Fruit
grow on thee henceforward for ever_. St. _Mark_ says, _that in the
Morning as the Disciples passed by; they saw the Figtree dry'd up from
the Roots_, which was at least the Day[155] after the Curse was
utter'd, so that there was certainly four and twenty Hours for its
withering; and if it is said that the _Tree dry'd up from the Roots_,
it does not imply that the Trunk of it perish'd, or was reduc'd to
nothing; but only that the green Leaves of the Whole, and of every
Part of it, were in a withering Condition: And might not all this be
done without a Miracle? What if _Jews_ and _Infidels_ should say, that
_Jesus_, being minded to impose on his Disciples and Followers, took a
secret Opportunity beforehand to lay his Carpenter's Ax to the Root of
this Tree, and so imperceptibly circumcised it, as that the Leaves
did, what they will do, wither in a Night and a Day's Time. God
forbid, that I should think, _Jesus_ did so; but as to the Possibility
of such a Fraud in an Impostor, none can doubt of it.

I am so far from thinking there was any such Fraud in this supposed
Miracle of _Jesus_, that I don't believe it was at all done by him
according to the Letter: And for this I have not only a clear and
intrinsick Proof from the Story itself; but the Authority of the
Fathers. St. _Ambrose_, treating on the Parable of the Figtree in[156]
St. _Luke_, intimates, that what St. _Matthew_ and St. _Mark_ write of
_Jesus_'s cursing the Figtree, is but[157] Part of the same Parable.
And St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_[158] says expressly enough, that the three
_Evangelists_ write of one and the same Figtree, consequently
parabolically, and that, what St. _Matthew_ and St. _Mark_ write of it,
was no more a literal Transaction, than the Parable in St. _Luke_.
Thanks to these holy Fathers for their ridding us of the Belief of the
Letter of this Story, which otherwise might have perplex'd us with its
Absurdities before urg'd. And to their Opinion I desire it may be added
and considered, whether it be not as reasonable in itself to take what
the three _Evangelists_ write of this Figtree as Part of one Story, as
well as, what they write of the _Woman with her Issue of Blood_, and of
_Jesus's calling the Devils out of the Madmen_, and of other Miracles
which are but several Relations of the same Story, Parable or Miracle,
Neither is it any Argument for a literal Transaction of this Miracle,
that the _Evangelists_ speak of it, as a Thing done: For, as _Origen_
says, there are some Things spoken of in the _Evangelists_, as Facts,
which were never transacted; so it is of the Nature of Prophecy (and
our Saviour in his whole Life prophesied) to speak of Things to come,
as if they were already past; because such Prophecies are not to be
understood till after their Accomplishment, and then the Reason of the
Use of the _præter_, instead of the _future_ Tense, in Prophecy, will be
visible. But what, in my Opinion, is an absolute Demonstration, that
there's no Truth in the Letter of this Story, is, what our Saviour adds,
upon the Disciples wondering at the sudden withering of the Figtree,
saying,[159] _that if they had Faith they should not only do what was
done to the Figtree; but should say to this Mountain_, (that was near
him, I suppose) _be thou removed and cast into the Sea, and it shall be
done_. But these Things were never litterally done by them, consequently
_Jesus_ himself did not litterally curse the Figtree; or the Disciples
wanted Faith for the doing the said Miracles, which is an Absurdity to
suppose; or _Jesus_ talked idly of a Promise to invest them with a
Power, they were never to be possess'd of. But of what ill Consequence
to Religion, either of these Suppositions is, let the old Objection in
_Paschasius Rathertus_[160] speak; which I shall not stay here to urge
and revive; but only say at present, that if _Jesus_ actually cursed a
Figtree, his Disciples ought to have done so too, and to remove
Mountains. If we adhere to the Letter in one Case, we must in the other
also; but we are only to look to the Mystery in both, or St.
_Augustin_[161] will tell us, that _Jesus_ utter'd vain, empty and
insignificant Words and Promises.

St. _Augustin_, who believes no more of the Letter of this Story, than
I do, says, that the Works of _Jesus_ are all figurative and of a
spiritual Signification, which is so manifest from his Act of cursing
the Figtree, as Men must,[162] _whether they will or not_ acknowledge
it. But he is mistaken: Tho' there might be none in his Time who
would question, that this supposed Fact of _Jesus_ had a mystical
Signification; yet if he had liv'd in our Days, he would have met with
_Divines_, who, for all the foresaid Absurdities and their Cogency to
drive us to Allegory, do adhere to the Letter only, whether the Truth,
Credibility and Reasonableness of it be defensible or not. But then to
do Justice to St. _Augustin_'s Assertion, he would have met with
others, who _against their Wills_, interpret this Miracle
figuratively, such as Dr. _Hammond_ and Dr. _Whitby_, who say, _Jesus_
cursed the Figtree by way of Type of the Destruction of the _Jewish_
State, which declined and wasted away after the Similitude of this
withering Tree. But why then don't these _Commentators_ allegorically
interpret and apply other Miracles of our Saviour? Because they think
the Letter will stand good and abide the Test without an Allegory. And
why do they allegorise this Miracle only? Because of the Difficulties
and Absurdities of the Letter, which they can't account for. And are
these Reasons good? No, certainly: The _Evangelists_ should have made
the Distinction for them. They should have told us, which Miracles are
to be allegoris'd and mystically applied, and which are not; or we
are to allegorise all or none at all. And how came these modern
Allegorists of this Miracle to apply it as they do, and to make it a
mystical Representation of the Ruin of the _Jewish_ State? Did they
take up this Notion of their own Heads, or did they borrow it of the
Fathers? Why in all Probability they took the Hint from the Fathers;
wherefore then don't they, what none of them do, cite and acknowledge
their Authors for it? Because, like Men of Subtilty, they would be
thought to devise it of themselves; for if they had quoted the Fathers
for it, the Fathers would have oblig'd them, upon their Authority, to
allegorise the rest of _Jesus_'s Miracles, in the way that I have
interpreted some of them; but this would not have agreed with their
Stomachs for many Reasons. No Thanks then to the aforesaid
_Commentators_ for their allegorical Application of this Miracle,
which they are again to desert, or abide the Consequence of
allegorising others also, which for their Interests and Reputations
they will not do. Therefore let them return again to the Letter of
this Miracle, and say for it, what is all that is to be said for it,
with _Victor Antiochenus_, an Apostatical Writer of the fifth
Century,[163] _that when we read this Passage of Scripture concerning
the Figtree_, Jesus _cursed, we ought not curiously to enquire whether
it was wisely or justly done of_ Jesus, _or not; but we ought to
contemplate and admire this Miracle, as well as that of_ Jesus'_s
drowning the Swine, notwithstanding some think it void of the Face of
Justice_. Ay, ay, our _Divines_ must allegorise all _Jesus_'s
Miracles, or betake themselves to this Opinion of _Victor_; which this
_Free-thinking_ Age will hardly let them quietly rest in. So,
supposing our _Divines_ to be, what they generally are, still
Ministers of the Absurdity of the Letter, I pass to the Consideration
of the Authority of the Fathers, and to see, whether we can't learn of
them this Parable of the Figtree.

Who or what is meant by the Figtree seems not to be agreed among the
Fathers; or, more properly speaking, they are not agreed, all of them
to apply it always to one and the same Thing. Some, as[164] _Gregory_
the _Great_, say Human Nature or Mankind is typified by the Figtree.
Others, as[165] St. _Hilary_, say the _Jewish_ Church or State is
meant by it. Others, as[166] _Origen_ say, it is a Type of the Church
of Christ. So do the Fathers seem to be divided in their Opinions; but
it is without any Difference or Inconsistency with each other. For as
there is, according to the Fathers, Mystery upon Mystery in all the
Actions of _Jesus_; so I believe the Figtree here, as a Type, may be
properly enough apply'd to the foresaid three Purposes. And if the
Fathers had been ask'd their Opinion in this Case, I dare say, they
would have said so too. This is certain that _Origen_[167] understands
it as applicable to the _Jewish_ as well as the _Christian_ Church.
And St. _Augustin_, as Occasion offers itself, takes it in the
foresaid three Senses. When they understand it as a Type of all
Mankind, they say that the _three Years_ of its Unfruitfulness are to
be interpreted of the[168] _three grand Periods_ of the World; the
_one_ before the Law of _Moses_; _another_ under the Law; and the
_third_ under the Gospel; at the Conclusion of which _third_ Period,
as it was an ancient and common Opinion, _Jesus_ in Spirit would come
to his Figtree of Mankind, and animadvert on them for their
Unfruitfulness, not by any Destruction of human Nature, but by a
Cessation of its Unfruitful State, which then will wither away, and be
turn'd into a fruitful one against the grand Sabbath, or acceptable
Year, which is the Year signified in the Parable, _that it is to be
let alone to bring forth Fruit in_. They that understand the Figtree
as a Type of the _Jewish_ State, mean by the _three Years Jesus_ came
to it, the _three Years_ of his preaching among the _Jews_; at the End
of which, after _Christ_'s Passion and Resurrection, the _Jewish_
State, like the Figtree, withered away, and, for its Unfruitfulness,
was rooted up. They, that understand the Figtree as a Figure of the
Church of _Christ_, by the _three Years_, mean the apocalyptical
_twelve hundred and sixty Days_ (that is, three Years and a half) of
the Church's barren and unfruitful State in the Wilderness, at the
Conclusion of which, the Fathers say, _Jesus_ will come again to his
Church or Figtree, seeking Fruit on it.

Some perhaps may be ready here to interpose with a Question, and say,
how will _Jesus_ then come to his Church? I have carefully perused the
Fathers upon this Question, and can't find that they mean any more by
_Christ_'s second or spiritual Advent, than that clear _Truth_, right
_Reason_ and divine _Wisdom_ (which are the mystical Names of _Jesus_)
will descend upon the Church, on the Clouds of the Law and the Prophets,
to the Removal of her unfruitful and unprofitable Errors, and to enable
her to bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit, against the grand Sabbath.
Neither can any reasonable Man conceive how otherwise[169] _the Lord
should come_, (not _with ten thousand of his Saints_, as our Translation
has it, but) εν μυριασιν αγιαις αυτου, that is, as _Origen_ interprets,
_in his holy thousands_ of Allegorists ποιησαι κρισεν, _to criticise
upon all_ the Scripture, and to convince _Ministers of the Letter_ of
their abominable Errors, and of their horrid Blasphemies spoken,
preach'd and printed against the Holy, (Ghost or) Spirit of the Law and
Prophets. As to that literal and common Pulpit-Story (with all its
Appendages) of _Jesus_'s second Coming on ætherial Clouds, as on a
Wool-sack, in his human, tho' glorious and majestick Appearance, for the
Resurrection of Mens Bodies, by the Sound of a Trumpet, in the Audience
of the Dead, _&c._ it is the most absurd, nonsensical and
unphilosophical, (such groundless and worthless Stuff have the _Clergy_
sold and preach'd to God's People!) that ever was told against Reason,
against prophetick and evangelical Scripture, and against other antient
and good Authority. It is no Place here to multiply Testimonies and
Arguments to either of these Purposes which my Readers, if they do but
attend, will see no Occasion for. But if our _Divines_ should think I
have put a false Gloss on the Text of St. _Jude_ above, I have a Bundle
of Arguments and Testimonies to produce in Defence of it, at their

In the Parable of St. _Luke_, it is said, _Lo, these three Years come
I seeking Fruit on this Figtree_; as if _Jesus_ came annually and
successively for _three Years_ together: but according to the
Original, it ought to be read, _Lo, it is three Years and I now
come_, or, _Lo, the three Years are now past, and I come_. And here it
is to be noted, that whether we understand the Figtree, as a Figure of
the Church in particular, or of Mankind in general; the mystical
Number of _three Years_ will terminate about the same Time, against
the Evangelical Sabbath, on which the Unfruitfulness of the Church, or
of Mankind, according to the Fathers, is to have an End put to it.

And _Jesus_, when he came to the Figtree, _found nothing thereon but
Leaves only_: So _Jesus_, when he comes to his Church, will find
nothing in her but Leaves only. And what is here meant by Leaves? Let
the Fathers, such as[170] St. _Hilary_, St. _John_[171] _of
Jerusalem_, and[172] St. _Theophylact_ tell us, who by Leaves
understand a vain and empty Appearance of Wisdom and good Works, or
the Words and Letter of the Scriptures, which are the Leaves of the
Oracle, without any Figs of spiritual Interpretations of them. And
whether this ben't the Case of the Church at present, our _Divines_
are to consider. The Figs that _Jesus_ may be supposed to look for at
his Coming, are not only the Fruits of the Spirit mention'd by St.
_Paul_, but[173] _spiritual Interpretations_ of the Scriptures, which
St. _Jerome_[174] says are _mystical Figs_; because, as ripe Figs are
sweet to the Palate of our Mouths, so are they no less delicious to
the Soul of Man.

But _Jesus_ is said to be _hungry_ after Figs: so will _Jesus_ in
Spirit _hunger_ for the mystical Figs of his Church, that is, as
_Origen_[175] rightly interprets, he will earnestly desire, like a Man
that is hungry, the Fruits of the Spirit in his Church, which will be
as grateful to him as Figs can be to a Man naturally. To understand
this Expression of _Jesus_'s _Hunger_ literally, is such a mean
Circumstance of Life, that unless it be, what's next to impossible,
necessarily introductory to some noble Transaction, its unfit to be
remember'd of a _Saint_ in History. _Diogenes Laertius_ would have
disdain'd to mention such a frivolous Circumstance in the Life of a
Philosopher as _this_ of _Jesus_. But if we understand this _Hunger_
in _Jesus_ mystically, and figuratively of his Desires of the Fruits
of the Spirit in his Church, it is sublime and noble; and the Emblem
confessedly proper and instructive.

But _Jesus_ is said to come to the Figtree at an unseasonable Time;
_For the Time of Figs was not yet_; which Expression has been the
Perplexity of _Commentators_, who with all their Wit and Sagacity
can't get well over it. I shall not mention here all or any of their
pretended Solutions of this Difficulty; but let us see whether we
can't easily and at once unlose it. St. _Mark_'s Words are ου γαρ ην
καιρος συκων, which are and have been commonly translated, _for the
Time of Figs is not yet_. But if we change the _Point_ into an
_Interrogation_, and read thus, _for was it not the Time of Figs?_ the
Difficulty vanishes as certainly, as that it is absurd to suppose
_Christ_ should come to his Figtree and look for Fruit, when he could
not reasonably expect any. This my Solution of this Difficulty
certainly serves the Purpose of the mystical Interpretation; and if
it does not the litteral, I answer, we are not to heed the Letter,
which seldom or never has any Sense or Truth in it. But, by the by, it
does the litteral too, since there are no Grounds from the Text to
think, what has been the common Opinion, that it was about the
_Jewish_ Passover that _Jesus_ came to the Figtree. If this my
Solution of the Difficulty don't please, I must say with[176]
_Heinsius_, that it must be left as a Knot for _Elias_ to untie, who,
according to the[177] ancient _Jews_, is first to gather Fruits off
this mystical Figtree, and present them to the intellectual Taste of
Mankind. But, that my Solution is good, will appear by what follows.

And _Jesus_ finding Leaves only says, in St. _Matthew_, to the
Figtree, _Let no Fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever_; which
(with its parallel Place in St. _Mark_) is in my Opinion a false
Translation: The Original is, Μηκετι εκ σου καρπος γενηται εις τον
αιωνα, and ought to be englished, _not as yet_, or _not until now_,
(that I come) _against the_ (grand) _Age_ (of the Sabbath) has Fruit
grown on thee. So that the Miracle of _Jesus_ was to make the Figtree
of the Church fruitful; and if her preceding unfruitful State, which
(in St. _Mark_) _Jesus_ is said to curse, or rather to devote to Ruin,
wasted away, it was by Consequence.

But what Time of Day was it that _Jesus_ came to the Figtree? It was in
the _Morning_. And of what Day? That is uncertain as to the Letter, but
according to the mystical Extent of the _Three Years_, whether we
understand the Figtree as a Type of the Church, or of all Mankind of all
Ages, it will be on the _Morning_ of the great Sabbath, when, upon the
Appearance of the Light of Christ, like the Rising of the Sun, an
unfruitful and erroneous Church must needs wither away. And the
Disciples on the said _Morning_ will, as _Origen_[178] says, with their
intellectual Eyes behold her waste with Admiration. And then too, they
under Christ _will do what is done to the Figtree_, of the Church, and
_remove Mountains_ of Antichristian Power, that exalt themselves
against him; as the Fathers interpret, and I need not explain.

And what is meant by the Means, which St. _Luke_ speaks of, to make
the Figtree of the Church fruitful on the Sabbatical Year; _the Year
it is to be let alone to bear Fruit in_? There must be _digging about
it_, that is[179] into the Earth of the Letter of the Scriptures, and
_dunging_ of it, that is calling[180] to Remembrance her Sins and
Errors of the Time past, which rationally speaking will make the
Church to bring forth good Fruit.

After this Fashion is the rest of the Parable of the Figtree to be
allegorized out of the Fathers. St. _Gregory_[181] the _Great_ and St.
_Augustin_, make these two Stories or Parables, _viz._ of the Figtree,
and of the Woman with her _Spirit of Infirmity_, as they are blended
together in St. _Luke_, to be Figures of the same Mystery. The
_eighteen Years_ of the Woman's Infirmity and the _three Years_ of the
Figtree's Unfruitfulness, they will have to be mystically
synchronical. And the Woman's _Incurvity_ to the Earth is, they say,
significative of the same Thing with the _Unfruitfulness_ of the
Figtree. And the _Erection_ of the Woman on the Sabbath is of the same
Import with the _Reservation_ of the Tree for Fruitfulness on that
Day. And let any one see, if they don't admirally agree, as I have
interpreted these two Parables.

Before I dismiss this Story of the Figtree, I can't but adore the
Providence of God, that the Miracle has been hitherto placed in the
withering away of the Tree. If the Miracle had been a plain Story of a
dead and wither'd Tree's being made to bring forth Leaves and Fruit on
a sudden; this would have been such a manifestly supernatural Work,
and so agreeable to modern Notionists about Miracles, that Mens
Thoughts would have been so absorpt in the Consideration of the
Letter, as they would never have extended them to the Contemplation of
the Mystery. And our Divines would have made such a Noise, in our Ears
of the Excellency and Marvellousness of such a Miracle, as that there
would be no bearing of it. But But as the _Evangelists_ have in a
good Measure suppress'd all mention of the after Fruitfulness of the
Tree; and the Story, by Misconstruction, is clog'd with the foresaid
Difficulties and Absurdities, we are of Necessity driven to the search
after Mystery for good Sense and Truth in it.

And thus have I spoken enough to the Miracle of _Jesus_'s cursing the
Figtree, which according to the Letter is a foolish and absurd Story:
But the mystical Operation, of which the Letter is a Shadow, will be
ravishing, marvellous and stupendous; and not only a Proof of
_Christ_'s Power, and Presence in his Church, but a Demonstration of
his _Messiahship_, in as much as an infinite Number of Prophecys upon
Prophecys, will thereupon be discern'd to be accomplish'd, or the
Church can't bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit, that is Spiritual
Interpretations of the Scriptures, like ripe Figs. And so I pass to an

8. _Eighth_ Miracle of _Jesus_, and that is,[182] "of his healing a
Man of an Infirmity, of thirty eight Years Duration, at the Pool of
_Bethesda_, that had five Porches, in which lay a great Multitude of
impotent Folk, blind, halt, withered, waiting the troubling of the
Waters, upon the Descent of an Angel, who gave a Sanative Virtue to
them, to the curing of any one, be his Distemper of what kind soever,
who first stept down into them."

This whole Story is what our Saviour calls a _Camel_ of a monstrous
Size for Absurdities, Improbabilities and Incredibilities, which our
_Divines_, and their implicit Followers of these last Ages, have
swallowed without chewing; whilst they have been straining at _Knats_
in Theology, and hesitating at frivolous and indifferent Things of the
Church, of no Consequence.

As to _Jesus_'s Miracle in this Story, which consisted in his healing
a Man, of no body knows what _Infirmity_, there neither is nor can be
proved any Thing supernatural in it, or there had been an express
Description of the Disease, without which it is impossible to say,
there was a miraculous Cure wrought. As far as one may reasonably
guess, this Man's _Infirmity_ was more _Lazyness_ than _Lameness_, and
_Jesus_ only shamed him out of his pretended Illness, by bidden him to
take up his Stool and walk off, and not lie any longer, like a lazy
Lubbard and Dissembler, among the Diseased, who were real Objects of
Pity and Compassion: Or, if he was no Dissembler, he was only
fancyfully sick, and _Jesus_ by some proper and seasonable Talk
touch'd his Heart, to his Relief; and so, by the Help of his own
Imagination, he was cured, and went his Way. This is the _worst_ that
can be made of this _infirm_ Man's Case; and the _best_ that can be
said of _Jesus_'s Power in the Cure of him, as will appear, by and by,
upon Examination into it. But the other Parts of the Story of the
healing Virtue of the Waters, upon the Descent of an Angel into them,
is not only void of all good Foundation in History, but is a
Contradiction to common Sense and Reason, as will be manifest after an
Inquiry into the Particulars of it.

St. _John_ was the beloved Disciple of our Lord, and I hope he lov'd
his Master: or he was worse than an Heathen, who loves those who love
him: But this Story, and some others, that are peculiar to his Gospel,
such as, of _Jesus's telling the Samaritan Woman her Fortune_; _of his
healing the blind Man with Eye-Salve made of Clay and Spittle_; _Of
his turning Water into Wine for the Use of Men, who had before well
drank_; and of _his raising Lazarus from the Dead_, are enough to
tempt us to think, that he wilfully design'd, either to blast the
Reputation of his Master, or to try how far the Credulity of Men who
through blind Love were running apace into Christianity, might be
imposed on; or he had never related such idle Tales, which, if the
_Priesthood_, who should be the philosophical Part of Mankind, had not
been amply hired into the Belief of them, would certainly have been
rejected with Indignation and Scorn before now.

St. _John_ wrote his Gospel many Years after the other _Evangelists_:
What then should have been his peculiar Business? Certainly nothing
more, than to add some remarkable Passages of Life, to _Jesus_'s
Honour, which they had omitted; and to confirm the Truths which they
had before reported of him. But St. _John_ is so far from doing this,
that the Stories, he has particularly added, are not only derogatory
to the Honour of _Jesus_, but spoil his Fame for a Worker of Miracles,
which the other _Evangelists_ would raise him to. By reading the other
_Evangelists_, one would think, that _Jesus_ was a Healer of all
manner of Diseases, however incurable by Art and Nature, and that
where-ever he came, all the sick and the maim'd (excepting a few
Infidels) were perfectly cured by him. But this Story before us will
be like a Demonstration, that _Jesus_ was no such Worker of Miracles
and Healer of Diseases, as he is commonly believed to have been; and
that he wrought not near the Number of Cures, he is supposed to have
done, much less any great ones. The best Conception that an impartial
Reader of the Gospel can form of _Jesus_, is, that he was a tolerable
good natural _Orator_, and could handsomely harangue the People off
hand, and was according to the Philosophy of the Times, a good
_Cabalist_; and his Admirers finding him endewed with the Gift of
Utterance, which was thought by them more than human, they fancy'd he
must have the Gift of healing too, and would have him to exercise it;
which he did with Success, upon the Fancies and Imaginations of many,
who magnified his divine Power for it. And the Apostles afterwards, to
help forward the Credulity and Delusion of the People, amplified his
Fame with extravagant Assertions and strange Stories of Miracles,
passing the Belief of considerate and wise Men. Whether this
Representation of the Case, according to the _Letter_ of the Gospels,
be false and improbable, let my _Readers_ judge by the Story before
us, which I come now to dissect, and make a particular Examination
into the several Parts of it. Accordingly it is to be observ'd

_First_, that this Story of the _Pool_ of _Bethesda_, abstractedly
considered from _Jesus_'s Cure of an infirm Man at it, has no good
Foundation in History: It merits no man's Credit, nor will any
reasonable Person give any heed to it. St. _John_ is the only Author
that has made any mention of this Story; and tho' his Authority may be
good, and better than another Man's in Relation to the Words and Actions
of _Jesus_, in as much as he was most familiar and conversant with him;
yet, for foreign Matters, that have no immediate Respect to _Jesus_'s
Life, he's no more to be regarded than another _Historian_, who, if he
palm upon his _Readers_ an improbable Tale of senseless and absurd
Circumstances, will have his Authority questioned, and his Story pry'd
into by the Rules of _Criticism_, and rejected or received as it is
found worthy of Belief and Credit. If there had been any Truth in this
Story before us, I cannot think but _Josephus_ or some other _Jewish_
Writers, it is so remarkable, peculiar and astonishing an Instance of
the Angelical Care and Love to the distressed of _Jerusalem_, would have
spoken of it: But I don't find they have; or our modern _Commentators_
would have refer'd to them, as to Testimony of the Credibility of the
Gospel-History. _Josephus_ has professedly written the History of the
_Jewish_ Nation, in which he seems to omit nothing that makes for the
Honour of his Country, or for the Manifestation of the Providence of God
over it. He tells us of the Conversation of Angels with the Patriarchs
and Prophets, and intermixes Extra-Scriptural Traditions, as he thought
them fit to be transmitted to Posterity. How came he then and all other
_Jewish_ Writers to forget this Story of the Pool of _Bethesda_? I
think, we may as well suppose that a Writer of the natural History of
_Somersetshire_ would neglect to speak of the medicinal Waters of
_Bath_, as _Josephus_ should omit that Story, which, if true, was a
singular Proof of God's distinguishing Care of his peculiar People, or
an Angel had never been frequently, as we suppose, sent to this Relief
of the Diseased amongst them. Is then St. _John_'s single Authority
enough to convey this Story down to us? Some may say, that there are
several Prodigies, as well as political Events of antient Times, that,
tho' they are reported but by one Historian, meet with Credit; and why
may not St. _John_'s Testimony be equal to another Writer's? I grant it;
and tho' it is hardly probable but that this Story, if true, before us,
must have had the Fortune to be told by others; yet St. _John_'s single
Authority shall pass sooner than another Man's, if the Matter be in
itself credible and well circumstanc'd. But where it is blindly
imperfectly and with monstrously incredible Circumstances related, like
this before us, it ought to be rejected. Which brings me,

_Secondly_, To ask, what was the true Occasion of the Angel's Descent
into this Pool? Was it to wash and bath himself? Or, was it to impart
an healing Quality to the Waters for some one diseased Person? The
Reason, that I ask the first of these two Questions, is, because some
antient Readings of v. 4. say[183] the Angel ελουετο _was washed_,
which supposes some bodily Defilement or Heat contracted in the
Cælestial Regions, that wanted Refrigeration or Purgaton in these
Waters: But how absurd such a Thought is, needs no Proof. To impart
then compassionately an healing Power to the Waters for the Benefit of
the Diseased was the sole Design of the Angel's Descent into them. And
God forbid, that any should philosophically debate the Matter, and
enquire how naturally the Waters deriv'd that Virtue from the Angel's
corporal Presence. The Thing was providential and miraculous, our
_Divines_ will say, and so let it pass. But I may fairly ask, why one
diseased Person only at a Time reap'd the Benefit? Or why the whole
Number of impotent Folks were not at once healed? I have a notable
Answer presently to be given to these Questions; but I am afraid
beforehand, our _Divines_ will not approve of it: Therefore they are
to give one of their own, and make the Matter consistent with the
Goodness and Wisdom of God; or the said Questions spoil the Credit of
the Story, and make an idle and ridiculous Romance of it. And when
their Hands are in, to make, what it impossible, a satisfactory Answer
to the said Questions; I wish, that, for the sake of _Orthodoxy_, they
would determine, whether the Angel descended with his Head or his
Heels foremost, or whether he might not come, swauping upon his Breast
into the Waters, like a Goose into a Horse-pond. But,

_Thirdly_, How often in the Week, the Month or the Year did the Angel
vouchsafe his Descent into the Pool? And for how many Ages before
_Christ_'s Advent, and why not since and even[184] _now_, was this
Gracious and Angelical Favour granted? St. _John_ should have been
Particular as to these Points, which he could not but know
Philosophers would be curious to enquire about. If it was but once in
the Year, as St. _Chrysostom_[185] hints, little Thanks are due to him
for his Courtesy. One would think sometimes, that his Descent was
frequent; or such a Multitude of impotent Folk, variously disorder'd
had never attended on it. And again at other Times, one would think
that his Descent was seldom, or the Diseased as fast as they came,
which could not be faster than the Angel could dabble himself in the
Waters, had been charitably dismissed with restor'd Health. Here then
is a Defect in St. _John_'s Story, and a _Block_, at which wise and
considerate Freethinkers will stumble. But,

_Fourthly_, How came it to pass, that there was not better Care taken,
either by the Providence of God, or of the Civil Magistrates of
_Jerusalem_ about the Disposal of the Angelical Favour to this or that
poor Man, according to his Necessities or Deserts: But that he, who
could fortunately catch the Favour, was to have it. Just as he who
runs fastest obtains the Prize: So here the Diseased, who was most
nimble and watchful of the Angel's Descent, and could first plunge
himself into the Pool, carried off the Gift of Sanation. An odd and a
merry Way of conferring a divine Mercy. And one would think that the
Angels of God did this for their own Diversion, more than to do good
to Mankind. Just as some throw a Bone among a Kennel of Hounds, for
the Pleasure of seeing them quarrel for it; or as others cast a Piece
of Money among a Company of Boys for the Sport of seeing them scramble
for it: So was the Pastime of the Angels here. It was the Opinion of
some Heathens, that _Homines sunt Lusus Deorum_, the Gods sport
themselves with the Miseries of Mankind; but I never thought, before I
considered this Story, that the Angels of the God of the _Jews_ did so
too. But if they delighted in it, rare sport it was to them, as could
be to a _Town-Mobb_. For as the poor and distressed Wretches were not
to be supposed to be of such a polite Conversation, as in Complaisance
to give place to their betters, or in Compassion to make way for the
most miserable; but upon the Sight or Sound of the Angel's Fall into
the Pool, would without Respect of Persons strive who should be first:
So those who were behind and unlikely to be cured, would like an
unciviliz'd _Rabble_, push and press all before them into it. What a
Number then, of some hundreds perhaps, of poor Creatures were at once
tumbled into the Waters to the Diversion of the City Mob, as well as
of God's Angels? And if one arose out of it, with the Cure of his
Disease, the rest came forth like drown'd _Rats_, to the Laughter of
the foresaid Spectators; and it was well if there was not sometimes
more Mischief done, than the healing of _one_ could be of Advantage,
to those People. Believe then this Part of the Story, let him that
can. If any Angel was concern'd in this Work, it was an Angel of
_Satan_ who delights in Mischief; and if he healed _one_ upon such an
Occasion, he did it by way of Bait, to draw others into Danger of Life
and Limb. But as our _Divines_ will not, I suppose, bear the Thoughts
of its being a bad Angel; so I leave them to consider upon our
Reasonings, whether it was credible that either a good or a bad Angel
was concerned, and desire them to remember to give me a better Reason,
why but _one_ at a Time was healed.

If any Pool or Cistern of Water about this City of _London_ was so
blessed with the Descent of an Angel to such an End, the Magistrates,
such is their Wisdom, would, if God did not direct, take care of the
prudent Disposal of the Mercy to the best Advantage of the Diseased.
And if they sold it to an infirm _Lord_ or _Merchant_, who could give
for it most Money, to be distributed among other Poor and distressed
People, would it not be wisely done of them? To suppose they would
leave the Angelick Favour to the Struggle of a Multitude, is absurd
and incredible. And why then should we think otherwise of the
Magistrates of _Jerusalem_? Away then with the Letter of this Story!
And if this be not enough to confute it. Then,

_Fifthly_, Let us consider, to its farther Confutation, who and what
were the impotent Folk, that lay in the Porches of _Bethesda_, waiting
the Troubling of the Waters. St. _John_ says they were _Blind_,
_Halt_, _Withered_, and as some Manuscripts[186] have it,
_Paraliticks_. And what did any of these there? How could any of them
be supposed to be nimble enough of Foot to step down first into the
Waters, and carry off the Prize of Sanation, before many others of
various Distempers? Tho' the troubled Waters might be of such
medicinal Force as to heal a Man of whatsoever Disease he had; yet
none of the foresaid Persons for want of good Feet and Eyes could
expect the Benefit of it. Tho' the Ears of the Blind might serve him
to hear, when the Angel plump't like a Stone into the Waters, yet
through want of Sight for the guidance of his Steps, he would by
others be jostled out of the right Way down into them. And if the Lame
had good Eyes to discern the Descent of the Angel, yet Feet were all
in all to this Purpose: Consequently these impotent Folk, specified by
St. _John_, might as well have stay'd at Home, as resorted to
_Bethesda_ for Cure. I know not what Fools the Diseased of _Jerusalem_
of old might be, but if there was such a Prize of Health to be strove
for, by the Distempered of this City, I appeal to all Men of common
Sense, whether the _Blind_, the _Lame_, the _withered_ and
_Paralyticks_ would offer to put in for it. St. _John_ then forgot
himself, or else blundered egregiously, or put the Banter upon us, to
try how far an absurd Tale would pass upon the World with Credit.
There might be, if there was any litteral Sense in the Story, many of
other Distempers, but there could be neither _blind_, _halt_ nor
_withered_, without _such an Absurdity_, as absolutely disparages the
Story, blasts the Credit of the _Relator_, or rather brings to mind
the Assertion of St. _Ambrose_, that the Letter of the _New_ as well
as of the _Old Testament_ lies abominably. If what I have here said
does not overthrow the Letter of this Story; Then what I have,

_Sixthly_, To add, will do it more effectually, and that is, of the
_certain Man, that had an Infirmity thirty and eight Years_, and lay
at this Pool for an Opportunity to be cured of it. Tho' these _thirty_
and _eight_ Years are, in our _English_ Translation prædicated of this
Man's Infirmity, yet more truly, according to the Original, are they
spoken of the Time he lay there? and the Fathers so understood St.
_John_'s Words. What this Man's Infirmity was, we are uncertain: For
[Geek: astheneia] _Weakness_ or _Infirmity_ is a general Name of all
Distempers, and may be equally apply'd to one as well as to another:
Whereupon, tho' we can't certainly say from this Man's Infirmity, that
he was a Fool to lay there so long, expecting that Cure, which it was
impossible for him to obtain; yet what he says to our Saviour, _I have
no Man, when the Waters are troubled to put me into the Pool, but
while I am coming another steppeth down before me_, does imply his
Folly sufficiently, or rather the Incredibility of the whole Story.
What then did this _infirm_ Man at this Pool, if he had neither Legs
of his own good enough, nor a Friend to assist him, in the Attainment
of Sanation? Was he not a Fool, if it was possible for any to be so
great a one, for his Patience? Would it not have been as wisely done
of him to wait, in the Fields so long, the Falling of the Sky, that he
might catch Larks? The Fathers say, this Man's _Infirmity_ was the
_Palsy_; but whether they said so for the Sake of the Mystery, or to
expose the Letter, I know not. But that Distemper, after _thirty_ and
_eight_ Years Duration, and Increase; if it was more curable than
another at first, had in that time undoubtedly so weakened and
render'd him uncapable to struggle with others for this Relief, that
it is without Sense and Reason to think he should wait so long for it.
Our _Divines_, if they so please, may commend this Man for his
Patience, but after a few Years, or rather a few Days Experience,
another Man would have been convinc'd of the Folly and Vanity of his
Hopes, and returned Home. If he could not put in for this Benefit,
with Prospect of Success in his more youthful Days, when the Distemper
was young too, much less Reason had he to hope for it in his old Age,
after _thirty_ and _eight Years_ Affliction, unless he dream'd of,
what was not to be imagin'd, an Opportunity, without Molestation and
Competition, to go off with it. Whatever then our _Divines_ may think
of this Man and his Patience, I will not believe there ever was such a
Fool; and for this Reason will not suppose St. _John_ could literally
so romance, unless he meant to bambouzle Mankind into the Belief of
the greatest Absurdity. A Man that Lies with a Grace to deceive
others, makes his Story so hang together, as to carry the Face and
Appearance of Truth along with it; which this of St. _John_, that for
many Ages has been swallowed, for the Reason before us, has not. But
what is the worst of all against this Story is,

_Seventhly_, That which follows, and absolutely destroys the Fame and
Credit of _Jesus_ for a Worker of Miracles. _And_ V. 1, 2, 3. _Jesus
went up to Jerusalem, where there was by the Sheep-Market, a Pool,
called Bethesda, having five Porches, in which lay a great Multitude
of impotent Folk, blind, halt, withered._ Why then did not _Jesus_
heal them? Here was a rare Opportunity for the Display of his Healing
and Almighty Power; and why did he not exercise it, to the Relief of
that Multitude of impotent Folk? If he could not cure them, there's an
End of his Power of Miracles? and if he would not, it was want of
Mercy and Compassion in him. Which way soever we take this Case, it
turns to the Dishonour of the Holy _Jesus_. What then was the Reason,
that of so great a Multitude of diseased People, _Jesus_ exerted his
Power, and extended his Mercy, on only _one_ poor Paralytick? St.
_Augustin_[187] puts this Question and Objection into my Mouth; and
tho' neither He nor I start it for the Service of Infidelity, but to
make Way for the Mystery, yet I know not why _Infidels_ may not make
Use of it, till Ministers of the Letter can give a satisfactory Answer
and Solution to it.

The Evangelists, _Matthew_, _Mark_, and _Luke_, tell such Stories of
_Jesus_'s healing Power, as would incline us to think he cured all
where-ever he came. He _heal'd_, they say, _all Manner_ of Diseases
among the People, and they make mention of particular Times and
Places, where all the Diseased were healed by him, which Assertions
imply, that _Jesus_'s healing Power was most extensive and (excepting
to an hard-hearted and unbelieving _Pharisee_ now and then) universal;
so far that it might be question'd, whether any died, during the Time
of his Ministry, the Places where he came: And our _Divines_ have so
harangued on _Jesus_'s Miracles, as would confirm us in such an
Opinion: But this Story in St. _John_ confutes and confounds all. St.
_John_ in no Place of his Gospel talks of _Jesus_'s healing of many,
nor of all manner of Diseases, much less of all that were Diseased;
which, if it be not like a Contradiction to the other _Evangelists_,
is some Diminution of their Authority, and enough to make us suspect,
that they stretch'd much in praise of their Master, and said more to
his Honour than was strictly true. But this Place before us is a flat
Contradiction to them, and _Jesus_ is not to be supposed to heal many
in any Place, much less all manner of Diseases, or he had never let
such a Multitude of poor Wretches pass without the Exercise of his
Power and Pity on them. Some good Reason then must be given for
_Jesus_'s Conduct here, and such a one as will adjust it to the
Reports of the other Evangelists; or _Infidels_ will think, that
either they romanc'd for the Honour of their Master, or that St.
_John_ in Spite told this Story to the Degradation of him. I can
conceive no better of this Matter according to the Letter.

The _Bishop_ of _Litchfield_ very remarkably says,[188] _that Jesus
where-ever he went, healed all that came to him without Distinction,
the impotent, halt, withered_. He certainly had this Text of St.
_John_ in his Eye, when he said so, because _Impotent_, _Halt_,
_Withered_, are only mention'd here, where _Jesus_ cured _none_ of
them: Whereupon if his _Lordship_ had made but a marginal Reference to
this Text, it would have been the best Jest and Banter, with a Sneer,
that ever was put upon _Jesus_ and his Power of Miracles: As it is,
it's a very good one, and I desire my Readers to take Notice of it,
that his Lordship may not lose the Credit and Praise of it. It's for
such Circumspection of Thought, Exactness of Expression, and Acuteness
of Wit, that I admire that _Prelate_, and must needs say of him,
whether he ever be translated to _Canterbury_ or _York_, or not, that
he's an _arch_ Bishop.

But to return and go on. The Conduct of _Jesus_, to all Appearance, is
not only blameable, his Power of healing disputable, and his Mercy
indefensible, for that he cured but _one_ infirm Man out of a
Multitude, at _Bethesda_, but,

_Eightly_, and lastly, it may reasonably be questioned, whether he
wrought any Miracle in the healing of this _one_ Man. Miracles (to say
nothing of the ridiculous Distinction between divine and diabolical
ones) are Works done out of the Course of Nature, and beyond the
Imitation of human Art or Power. Now whether the Cure of this infirm
Man can be brought under this Definition of a Miracle, may be doubted.
What this Man's _Infirmity_, which is a general Name for all
Distempers, was, we know not. How then can we say he was miraculously
cured, unless we knew his Disease to be incurable by Art, which none
can affirm? The worst that we know of this Man's Case, is, that it was
of a long Continuance, no less than of _eight_ and _thirty_ Years: And
the _Bishop_ of _Litchfield_ and others in their florid Harangues of
_Jesus_'s Works, make the Cure of such Chronical Diseases to be
miraculous: But why so? Many Instances may be given of Infirmities of
human Nature, of a long Duration, which in Time, and especially in
old Age, wear off. If such Infirmities don't occur to the Memory of
our _Divines_, I could put them in Mind of them. And who knows but
this was the Case of this impotent Man, whose Infirmity _Jesus_
observing to be wearing off, bid him to be gone, and take up his
Couch, for he would soon be made whole.

The Fathers indeed call this Man's Infirmity the _Palsy_, which in
truth is generally worse than better by Time, and after _thirty_ and
_eight_ Years, must needs be very deplorable, and incurable without a
Miracle. But why do they call it the Palsy? They have no Authority for
it from the Text, without which, as our litteral _Doctors_ will not
subscribe to their Opinions in other Cases; so why should I here? In
short, the Fathers had never call'd it the _Palsy_, but for the sake
of the Mystery; and I am not bound to own _that_ to have been the
Distemper, any more than it was want of Legs; for that would be making
of Miracles for _Jesus_, without Reason and Authority.

If _Jesus_ here had healed the whole _Multitude of impotent Folk_;
without Enquiry what Numbers there might be of them, I should have
believed that he wrought there many great Miracles, in as much as in
such a great Multitude, there must needs, in all Probability, be some
incurable by Art or Nature: But since he cured only this _one_ Man, it
affords Matter of Speculation, whether he was the _most_ or the
_least_ diseased amongst them. Our _Divines_, for the sake of the
Miracle, may possibly suppose him to be the most grievously afflicted
of any; but _Infidels_, on the other hand, will say, not so: but with
their Cavils will urge that this infirm Man was either a Dissembler,
whom _Jesus_ shamed out of his pretended Disease, or that he was only
hippish, and fancyfully more than really distemper'd of a long Time,
whom _Jesus_ by suitable Exhortations and Admonitions, working upon
his Imagination, persuaded into a Belief of his Cure, and bid him to
walk off. Certain it is, that _Infidels_ will say, it was not a Power
of Miracles in _Jesus_ which heal'd him, or he had used it then and
there for the Sanation of others also.

And thus have I finish'd my Invective against the Letter of this Story;
which, if any are offended at, they enjoy, what is the most reasonable
Thing in the World, the same Liberty to write for the Letter, which I
have used against it: And so I pass to the Consideration of the
Opinions and Expositions of the Fathers on this strange Story.

The Fathers, upon whose Authority I form'd my preceding Invective
against the Letter, so universally betake themselves to the mystical
Interpretation of this Story, that it may be question'd, whether any
of them, more than myself, believ'd any Thing at all of the Letter of
it. St. _Chrysostom_, who is as much a litteral Interpreter of the
Scriptures as any of them, here intirely discards the Letter, saying
admirably thus,[189] _what a strange Way and Story of healing the
Diseased is here? but what is the Mystery of it? that we are to look
to. The Matter could not be so simply and unadvisedly transacted
litterally, as it is related. There must be somewhat future here, as
by a Type and Figure, signify'd; or the Story, it is so incredible in
itself, will give Offence to many._ St. _Chrysostom_ was certainly in
the right on't; and I wonder, for which no Reason but want of Liberty
can be given, that _Infidels_ have not before now, with their Jests
and Cavils, ridiculed this Story. St. _Augustin_, to the same Purpose,
says,[190] _Can any one believe, that these Waters of Bethesda were
wont to be troubled in this Fashion, and that there was not Mystery,
and a spiritual Signification in it?_ Yes, I could tell St.
_Augustin_, that our modern _Divines_ seem to believe it, tho' he, if
he was now alive, would laugh at them for it. But to come to the
profound Mystery signified by this Story, which to use the Words
of[191] St. _Augustin_, as God shall enable me, I will now speak to.

Our _English_ Version says, _There is at Jerusalem by the
Sheep-Market, a Pool_. How our _Translators_ came by the Notion of a
_Market_ here, I can't imagine, since there is nothing to favour it in
the Original, which stands thus, επι τη προβατικη κολυμβηθρα: By
κολυμβηθρα, the Fathers understand[192] Baptism, or the spiritual
_Laver_ of Regeneration; and who is that for, but the Flock of
Christ, signified by προβατικη? So we have another and clearer
Interpretation of these two Words. And as to _Bethesda_, that is a
mystical Name of the Church, which according to the Signification of
_Bethesda_, is the House of Grace. And if it is said to be at
_Jerusalem_, it is not to be understood of the Old _Jerusalem_, but of
the _New_ and Apocalyptical _Jerusalem_, at the Entrance into which
the Flock of Christ will be baptiz'd by the Waters of the Spirit, as
in a mystical Laver.

_Bethesda_ is said to have five _Porches_, that is, as the Fathers[193]
agree, the five Books of _Moses_, which are as so many Doors of Entrance
into the House of Wisdom, or of the Grace of _Christ_.

At these _five Porches_ of the five Books of Moses lay _a great
Multitude of impotent Folk, blind, halt, withered_. And who are these
mystically? The ignorant, erroneous, and unstable in Faith and
Principle, as the Fathers often understand them spiritually. And what
is the Reason of these their mystical Diseases? Because, as St.
_Augustin_[194] and other Fathers say, they rest on the Letter of the
Law, which throws them into various Errors, like Diseases, of
different Kinds, of which they can't be cured without the Descent of
the Spirit, like an Angel, to instruct them mystically to interpret.

With these impotent Folk lay _a certain Man who had an Infirmity_. And
who is this infirm Man? Mankind in general, say St. _Cyril_[195]
and[196] St. _Augustin_, And what is his Infirmity? The Fathers call it
the[197] _Palsy_, because of his Instability, and Unsteadiness in Faith
and Principles, which is now the Case of Mankind. St. _John_ calls it
ασθενειαν _a Weakness_, which being a general Name of all Distempers,
we can't guess what might be here the specifical one. But reasonably
speaking, according to the Rule of Interpretation, this Man's
_Infirmity_ is the same with the Woman's _Spirit of Infirmity_, and that
is a Weakness at the Spirit of Prophecy, which Mankind, as well as the
Woman of the Church, is to be cured of in the Perfection of Time.

And how long did this Man with his Infirmity lay in these Porches of
_Bethesda_? _Thirty eight Years_: So has Mankind with his Weakness at
the Spirit of Prophecy lay eight and thirty (hundred)[198] Years,
reckoning two thousand under the Law, and eighteen hundred since under
the Gospel. St. _Augustin_[199] has an ingenious and more mystical way
of Computation of these _thirty and eight Years_, which pleases me
too, but possibly some Readers may not so easily apprehend it, unless
they are well acquainted with the Mystery of Prophetical Numbers.

And how is Mankind to be cured of his Infirmity at the Spirit of
Prophecy? By being instructed, by the Spirit of Truth, who is to come
at the Conclusion of the said thirty and eight mystical Years, _to
arise and take up his bed and walk_, that is, to raise his Thoughts to
the Contemplation of the divine Mysteries of the Law, and to lift up
his Bed of the Letter, on which he has hitherto _rested_, into a
sublime Sense, and then he will walk uprightly and steadily in the
Faith, without wavering like a Paralytick.

And at what Season did _Jesus_ come to this infirm Man? It was at a
Feast of the _Jews_. _Irenæus_, _Chrysostom_, _Theophylact_, and
_Cyril_ call it the Feast of Penticost. And the grand Feast of
Penticost is, as St. _Cyril_[200] says upon the Place at the
Perfection of Time, the Time of the Evangelical Sabbath, and of
_Jesus_'s spiritual Advent, which will be a Time of feasting on
intellectual and divine Mysteries, of seeing Visions and of dreaming
Dreams; consequently at that Time, as the ancient _Jews_ and Fathers
assert, Mankind will be cured of this Infirmity at the Spirit of
Prophecy. And this too is the _certain Season, that the Angel will
descend and trouble the Waters_. By Angel is here meant[201] the
Spirit of Christ. And by Waters the Fathers understand,[202] the
People of all Nations. But how will the Descent of the Spirit of
Truth, like an Angel, trouble these Waters, that is, give any
Molestations and Disturbance to the People? Is there not a Mistake in
the Oracle? If the _Clergy_ will be but greater Lovers of Truth than
of their Interests; if they, who should be Teachers of Forbearance of
one another in Love, will but keep their Temper, there would be found
a mistake in it. But alas!

_Lastly_, The _Jews_, as is intimated, seem to have been mov'd with
Indignation at the Cure of the infirm Man, saying to him, ver. 10. _it
is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to carry thy Bed_; which
litterally could not be true. The _Jews_ were not such precise
Observers of the Sabbath; nor _so stupid and foolish_, as St.
_Cyril_,[203] says, as to think the taking up and carrying a Stool to
be a Breach of it. But mystically, it is to be fear'd, this will be
most true, and that the _Clergy_, who would be _Jews_ inwardly, and
the Circumcision in Spirit, will be bitter Enemies to Man's Exaltation
of his Couch of the Letter of the Scriptures on or against the
Evangelical Sabbath, and will make it, if possible, an _unlawful_
Work; because it will bring to them Shame, Dishonour and Loss of
Interests along with it.

After this Manner is every other Circumstance of this Story to be
allegorically apply'd out of the Fathers. The Moral or Mystery of the
whole, in short, is this, that at the Perfection of Time, signified by
the _Sabbath_, the _Pentecost_, the End of _thirty eight Years_, the
Spirit of Truth will descend on Mankind, to their Illumination in
Prophecy, and to the healing of their _Errors_, call'd _Diseases_;
which is admirably represented by the Parable before us, that
according to the Letter, has neither Reason nor common Sense in it.

And thus have I spoken to _eight_ of the Miracles of _Jesus_; and
whether I have not shew'd them, in whole or Part, according to the
Proposition before us, to consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities,
and Incredibilities; and whether they are not prophetical and
parabolical Narratives of what will be mysteriously, and more
wonderfully done by _Jesus_, I appeal to my _Readers_.

After another Discourse of some other Miracles, I intend to take into
Examination the several Stories of _Jesus_'s raising of the Dead as of
_Lazarus_, _Jairus_'s Daughter, and the Widow's Son of _Naim_; which
reputedly are _Jesus_'s grand Miracles; but, for all the seeming
Greatness and Excellency of them, I don't doubt but to give the Letter
of these Stories a Toss out of the Creed of a considerate and wise
Man; at least show their Insufficiency for the Purpose for which they
have been hitherto apply'd. And if I should afterwards, by the Leave
and Patience of the _Bishop_ of _London_, give my Objection against
_Christ_'s Resurrection a Review, and some more Force, then what will
become of the Argument of _Christ_'s Power, Authority, and
_Messiahship_ from his Miracles?

But, besides _Jesus_'s Miracles, I am, as Opportunity serves, to take
into Consideration some of the Historical Parts of his Life; and shew
them to be no less sensless, absurd and ridiculous than his Miracles.

And why may I not sometimes treat on the Parables of _Jesus_, and show
what nonsensical and absurd Things they are, according to the
Expositions of our most famous Commentators of these last Ages. _Jesus_
was certainly the absolute, and most consummate Perfection of a
_Cabalist_, _Mystist_, _Parabolist_ and _Enigmatist_; but according to
modern Commentaries and Paraphrases, he was the merest Ideot and
Blockhead that ever open'd his Mouth, in that sort of Learning, to the
Instruction of Mankind. And I am oblig'd a little to speak to the
Absurdities of _Christ_'s Doctrine and Parables, because one Article of
the Prosecution against me was for saying, _that any of the Philosophers
of the Gentiles_, or _any rational Man_ (meaning according to modern
Expositions) _would make a better Teacher, than Jesus was_.

What a great deal of Work have I upon my Hands, which, if God spare my
Life and Health, I intend to go on with: If what I have already done
in it be not acceptable to the _Clergy_, their Way to prevent the
Prosecution of this great Undertaking, is to battle me upon what's
past. Who knows but they may write, if they would try their Strength,
so acutely in Defence of the Letter of _Jesus_'s Miracles already
discuss'd, as may effectually stop my Mouth, and prevent my giving
them any more Trouble of this Kind? And I suppose I have now gotten an
Adversary in the _Bishop_ of St. _David_'s, who has already discharg'd
one Fool's Bolt at me.

There has nothing been a more common Subject of Declamation among the
_Clergy_ than the _Reasonableness_ of Christianity, which must be
understood of the History of _Christ_'s Life and Doctrine, or the
Application of the Word _Reasonableness_ to the Christian Religion is
impertinent. But if I proceed, as I have begun in this Work, I shall
shew Christianity, as it is understood, to be the most unreasonable
and absurd Story, that ever was told; and our modern Systems of
Theology groundless and sensless in almost every Part of them.
_Mahometanism_, without Offence be it spoken, is a more _reasonable_
Religion than the Christian, upon modern _Schemes_ and _Systems_.

If what I here say is offensive to our _Divines_, the _Press_ is open
for them as well as for myself, and they may, if they can, shew their
Resentment of it. Thanks unto God and our most excellent Civil
Government for such a Liberty of the _Press_: A Liberty that will lead
and conduct us to the Fountain of Wisdom and Philosophy, which
Restraint is a down-right Enemy to. And that this Blessing of Liberty
may be continued, for all _Bishop Smallbrook_ and Dr. _Roger_'s
_Hobbism_, is, I dare say, the Desire of the curious, inquisitive, and
philosophical Part of Mankind. If this Liberty should be taken away,
what a notable Figure will our _Divines_ make from the _Press_ and
_Pulpit_, declaiming on the Reasonableness, Excellency and Perfection
of the Christian Religion, without an Adversary; and telling their
Congregations, that all, their bitterest and acutest Enemies can
object, is clearly answered!

The _Press_, of late Years, has been productive of so many cogent and
persuasive Arguments for Liberty of debate, and the Advocates for this
Liberty, in the Judgment of the impartial and considerate, have so far
gotten the better of their Adversaries, that I wonder any one can
appear in behalf of Persecution. If I was a _Bishop_ or _Doctor_ in
_Divinity_, I shou'd think it a Disgrace to my Station and Education
to ask the Assistance of the Civil Authority to protect my Religion: I
should judge my self unworthy of the Wages and Emoluments I enjoy'd,
for the Preaching and Propagation of the Gospel, if I was unable to
give an Answer to any one, that ask'd a Reason of my Faith; Or if I
was so Shallow-pated, as to think Heresy and Infidelity punishable by
the Civil Magistrate, I should think myself as much oblig'd to confute
by _Reason_, as he is to punish by the _Sword_. If the _Bishop_ of
_London_ had taken this Course with me; if he had publish'd a
Refutation of my supposed Errors, as well as endeavour'd at a
Prosecution of me for them, I had forgiven him the Wrongs and Injuries
done me, and made no repeated Demands of Satisfaction for them.

Christianity is, as I believe, founded on a Rock of Wisdom; and what's
more, has an omnipotent and omniscient God on its Side, who can incline
the Hearts of Men to believe, and open the Eyes of their Understanding
to discern the Truth of it; consequently there can be no Danger in the
Attempts of our Adversaries, whether, _Jews_, _Turks_ or Domestick
_Infidels_, against it. But Persecution implys Weakness and Impotency in
God to defend his own Cause; or his Priests would not move for the Help
of the Arm of Flesh in Vindication of it. And if, at this Time of Day,
after so many Treatises of _Infidels_, and some of them as yet
unanswered, against our Religion, this good Cause should be taken out of
the Hands of God, and committed to the Care of the Civil Magistrate; if
instead of Reason the Clergy should have Recourse to Force, what will
By-standers, and even Well-wishers to Christianity say? Nothing less
than that _Infidels_ had gotten the better of _Christ_'s Ministers, and
beaten them at their own Weapons of Reason and Argument.

The two great Pleaders for Persecution, to the Disgrace of themselves
and Dishonour of our Religion, that have lately arose are Dr. _Rogers_
and the _Bishop_ of St. _David_'s. Dr. _Rogers_'s chief Reason against
Liberty of Debate, is because, as he says it is pernicious to the
Peace and Welfare of the Community, by unsettling the Minds of the
People about the Religion established: But here's no consequence,
unless it could be proved, that such as the great Mr. _Grounds_ and
Mr. _Scheme_, have it in their Hearts to raise Mobbs upon the
Government, and to beat out the Brains of the _Clergy_. All the Harm,
or rather Good, they aim at, is to exercise the Wits of the _Clergy_
with their Doubts and Objections; and if the Passions of our
_Ecclesiasticks_ are not raised upon it, to the doing of Violence to
these _Gentlemen_, the Peace of the Publick will never be disturb'd.
As to myself, tho' I have a vast and numerous Party on my Side, no
less than all the Fathers and primitive Christians for some Ages; yet
as we were peaceable and quiet Subjects of old and passively obedient
to the _Emperors_ of _Rome_; so we will continue to the Civil
Authority of this Nation. We only take the Liberty to awaken the
Clergy out of a Lethargy of Dulness and Ignorance; and hope the Civil
Magistrate will consider the Goodness and Charity of our Intentions,
and guard us against their Insults for it.

The _Bishop_ of St. _David_'s[204] says, "It is absurd to assert, that
the Liberties of any Nation will allow, with Impunity, a Set of
distinguish'd Infidels to insult and treat with the greatest Contempt
and Scorn the most sacred and important Truths, that are openly
professed, by the whole Body of the People, of whatever Denomination."
By a Set of Infidels, I suppose, he means me and the Fathers: And by
_treating with Contempt and Scorn the most sacred and important
Truths_, he means, our burlesquing, bantering and ridiculing the
_Clergy_ for their Ministry of the Letter: And for _this_ he would, I
conceive, have incensed the _Societies_ for Reformation of Manners to
a Prosecution of me. And if they had not been wiser, and more
merciful than their Preacher, I must have gone to Pot. But why should
the _Bishop_ dislike this way of Writing? Don't he know, that the
Fathers of the Church used to jest and scoff at the _Gentiles_ and
their Priests for their foolish Superititions? Don't he know, that our
_Reformers_ banter'd and ridicul'd Popery out of Doors, and almost
within the Memory of Man, it was reckon'd but a dull Sermon, that was
not well humm'd for its Puns and Jest on the Papists? why then should
the _Bishop_ be against that way of writing, which was of good Use to
the _Reformers_, and first _Christians_? The grand Subject for
_Burlesque_ and _Banter_, in my Opinion, is _Infidelity_; and that
_Bishop_, who can't break two Jests upon _Infidels_ for their one upon
Christianity, has but a small Share of Wit. The Christian Religion
according to the _Bishop_, will abide the Test of calm and sedate
Reasoning against it, but can't bear a Jest; O strange!

But to leave these two Contenders for Persecution to the Chastisement of
acuter Pens. What I have here pleaded for Liberty is not thro' any Fears
of Danger to myself, but for the Love of Truth and Advancement of
Christianity, which, without it, can't be defended, propagated and
sincerely embraced. And therefore hope, that the Controversy before us,
between _Infidels_ and _Apostates_ will be continued by the Indulgence
of the Government, till Truth arises and shines bright to the
Dissipation of the Mists of Error and Ignorance; like the Light of the
Sun to the Dispersion of the Darkness of the Night. I will by God's
Leave, go on to bear my part in the Controversy; And, if it was not more
against the Interests than Reason of the _Clergy_ to believe me, would
again solemnly declare that what I do in it is with a View to the Honour
of _Jesus_, our spiritual _Messiah_, to whom be Glory for ever. _Amen._




[145] _Matt._ Chap. xxi. _Mark_, Chap. xi.

[146] Hoc factum, nisi figuratum, stultum invenitur. _In Serm._ lxxvii.

[147] Nulla esset Ligni Culpa, quia Lignum sine sensu non habebat
Culpam. Augustin _in Serm._ lxxxix.

[148] Quærit poma; necesciebat tempus nondum esse? quod Cultor Arboris
sciebat, Creator Arboris nesciebat? _Augustini in Serm._ lxxxix.

[149] Hoc ideo probamus, quia Passionis Domini Dies propinquabat, et
scimus quo tempore passus sit. _Ibid._

[150] Arbor non est justé siccato. _Johan. Hierosol in Loc. Marci._

[151] Si miraculum fuerat tantummodo commendandum, et non alquid
prophetice figurandum, multo clementiùs dominus et sua misericordia
digniùs fecerat, Si quam aridam invenerat, viridem redderet, sicut
languentes sanavit. Tunc vero e contrario, quasi adversus Regulam
Clementiæ suæ invenit Arborem virentem, præter tempus fructus nondum
habentem, non tamen fructum agricolæ negantem, et aridam fecit. _In
Serm._ lxxxix. _Sect._ 3.

[152] See Arch-Bishop _Wake_'s Letter to Mr. _Chandler_, which is
handed about Town and Country.

[153] _Vindication of the Christian Religion_, p. 82.

[154] _Ibid._

[155] Quod sequenti die viderint exaruisse fieum. _Theophylact. in
Locum Marci._

[156] Chap. xiii.

[157] Quid sibi vult, quod in Evangelio suo Dominus Fici Parabolam
_frequenter_ inducit: Habes enim alibi, quod jussu Domini Viriditas
omnis hujus Ligni frondentis aruerit. _In Loc. Lucæ._

[158] Videamus, ubi alibi scriptum de ista ficu; in Evangelio secundum
Lucam legimus, &c. _In Loc. Marci. Hom._ xii.

[159] _Matth._ Chap. xxi. 21.

[160] Quanquam igitur juxta Literam Hæc facta non legantur ab Apostolis,
sicut quidam Paganorum calumniati sunt, et garriunt contra nos, etiam in
suis scriptis asserentes Apostolos non habuisse fidem, quia monues non
transtulerunt neque Ficulneas verbo exsiccarunt. _In Loc. Matth._

[161] Legimus Apostolorum miracula, nusquam autem legimus arborem ab
his arefactam, aut montem in mare translatum; quæramus ergo in
mysterio ubi factum sit, non enim Verba Domini vacare potuerant. _In
Serm._ lxxxix.

[162] Sed futurum aliquid Miraculo commendasse, multa sunt quæ nos
admoneant, nobisq; persuadeant imo ab _invitis_ extorqueant. _Ibid._

[163] Porro quando in hunc locum incidimus, nemo curiose inquirat, aut
anxie disputet, justene an secus factum sit; sed Miraculum editum
contempletur et admiretur. Nam de submersis Porcis quoq; nonnulli hanc
quæstionem moverant, factumq; justitiæ coloræ destitutum prædicare
veriti non sunt. _In Loc. Merci._

[164] Quid Arbor fici, nisi humanam naturam designet? _In Homil._ xxxi.

[165] In Ficu, Synogogæ positum Exemplum est. _In Loc. Matt._

[166] Absit a nobis, ut, Jesu veniente ad nos et volente manducare de
ficu (_Ecclesiæ_) non inveniatur Fructus in ea. _In Matth. Tract._ xxx.

[167] Potest autem ficus illa intelligi populus Circumcisionis. _Ibid._

[168] Arbor ficulnea Genus humanum est----Triennium autem tria sunt
Tempora, unum ante Legem, alterum sub Lege, tertium sub gratia. St.
_Augustin in Serm._ cx.

[169] _Jude_, ver. 14.

[170] Inveniet infæcundam, foliis tantummodo vestitam, id est Verbis
inanibus gloriantem, sed fructibus vacuam, Operibus quippe bonis
sterilem. _In Loc. Matt._

[171] Habentem folia et non fructus; Verba, non Sensus; Scripturas,
non intelligentiam Scripturarum. _In Loc. Marci._

[172] Folia sola habentem, hoc est, apparentem Litteram, non Fructus
Spiritus. _In Loc. Matt._

[173] Qærens non Sensiles Fructus sed intellectilem ex Lege et
Prophetis dulcemq, Fæcunditatem. _Cæsarii in Dialog._ 40.

[174] Ficus sunt dona dulcissima Spiritus Sancti, Spiritualia dogmata
et Scientia Scripturarum. _In Aggæ_; _Cap._ ii.

[175] Esuriit autem Jesus semper in justis, volens manducare Fructum
Spiritus Sancti i neis. _In Matt. Tract._ xxx.

[176] Ad quem (Locum) intelligendum, ut oportet, expectandum esse
Eliæ, ut nonnunquam loquuntur Veteres de Locis obscurissimis Adventum.
_In Excercitat. Sac. Lib._ ii. _cap._ 6.

[177] Fructus dulces omne genus de arbore Vitæ comedendum præbebit
Elias. _Apud Buxtorf. Synag. p._ 738.

[178] Oculis Spiritalibus viderunt Mysterium fici siccatæ. _Matt.
Tract._ xvi.

[179] Effodientes Literam Legis. _Cyril. Glaphyr._ L. 1. P. 1.

[180] Mittitur ergo Cophinus Stercoris ad Radicem Arboris, quando
pravitatis suæ Conscientia tangitur memoria Cogitationis. _Gregor. M.
in Hom._ xxxi.

[181] Sed hoc significat Ficulnea infructuosa, quod Mulier inclinata;
et hoc Ficulnea reservata, quod Mulier erecta. Hoc autem & octodecem
Annorum Numero signatur, quod tertio die Dominus Vineæ Ficulneam
venisse perhibetur. _In Homil._ xxxi.

[182] _John_, Chap. v.

[183] Vid. Milli. Nov. Test. _In Loc._

[184] Quare modo non movetur Aqua? _St. Ambros de Sacrament._ _Lib.
C._ 2.

[185] Εις μονος του ενιαυτου εθεραπευετο. _In Serm. contra Eberietatem._

[186] Vid. Milli. Nov. Test. _In Loc._

[187] Tot jacebant & unus curatus, cum posset uno Verbo omnes erigere.
Quid ergo intelligendum est, nisi quia Potestas & Bonitas illa magis
agebat, _&c._ _In Loc. Johan._

[188] Defence of Christianity, P. 415.

[189] Quis hic Curationis modus? quid hoc nobis mysterium
significatur? non απλως nec εικη hæc, sed futura nobis, tanquam
imagine et figura quadam describuntur, ne res nimium incredibilis et
inexpectata, accedente fidei Virtute, Multitudinis Animas offenderet.
_In Loc. Johan._

[190] Aqua turbata----credas hoc Angelica Virtute fieri solere, non
tamen sine significante aliquo Sacramento? _In Loc. Johan._

[191] Cujus Rei & cujus signi profundum mysterium, quantum Dominus
donare dignatur, loquar ut potero. _Ibid._

[192] Piscina illa Baptismum designat. _Theophyl. In Loc._ Quænam
igitur hæc descriptio? Futurum erat Baptisma plenum maximæ Potestatis
& Gratiæ purgaturum peccata. _Chrysost. In Loc._

[193] Per quinque Porticus, quinque Libras Mosis intelligo, St.
_Theophil. Antioch. in Loc._ Quinque Porticus sunt quinque Libri
Mosis. St. _August. in Loc._

[194] Mosis quinque Libros scripsit, sed in quinque Porticibus
Piscinam cingentibus languidi jacebant, et curari non poterant. Vide
quomodo manet littera, convincens eum non salvans iniquum. Illis enim
quinque Porticibus, in figura quinque Librorum prodebantur potius quam
sanabantur ægroti. Ergo quicunque amatis litteram fine gratia, in
Porticibus remanebitis, ægri eritis, jacentes non convalescentes, de
littera enim præsumitis. _In Psal._ lxx.

[195] Est Figura Populi in ultimis temporibus sanandi. _In Loc. Johan._

[196] Languidus ille, de quo in Evangelio legimus, quia jacebat, Typum
Generis humani habere videbatur. _In Serm._ cclxxiv. _Append._

[197] Paralyticum qui juxta Natatoriam jacebat. _Irenæi. Lib._ ii.
Chap. 22.

[198] Tempus et Annus sunt centum Anni, _Tichonii in Reg._ 5^a

[199] Quod autem triginta et octo Annos in Languoribus positut erat,
do illo Quadraginta numero, quem supra diximus duo minus habens; et
quæ sunt ista duo, nisi duo præcepta, dilectio Dei et Proximi. Ista
duo, in quibus tota Lex pendet et Prophetæ, si non habuerit, languidus
et Paralyticus jacet. _In Ps._ lxxxiii.

[200] Quod autem sub finem Hebdomadum Sanctæ Pentecostes ipse
revertitur Hierosolymam, figuraté et ænigmatice significat futurum
nostri Salvatoris Reversionem ultimis præsentis ævi temporibus. _In
Loc. Johan._

[201] Turbabat Angelus,----dictus est Dominus magni consilii Angelus.
_Augustin in Serm._ cxxv. _Sect._ 3.

[202] Turbavit Aquam, id est, turbavit Populum. _Ejusdem in Ps._ cii.

[203] Sabbatum est et Grabatum non licet tollere. Quid stupidius aut
inertius esse potest? _In Loc. Johan._

[204] Sermon before the Society for Reformation, _&c._ p. 12.

                                A FOURTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

                         In VIEW of the Present
                           Controversy between INFIDELS
                           and APOSTATES.

               _Canes qui oblatrant contra Inquisitionem
                     Veritatis._       Clem. Alex.

                           The Third Edition.

                    By THO. WOOLSTON, B.D. sometime
               Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.


                Printed for the Author, and Sold by him
                  next door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_,
                  and by the Booksellers of _London_, and
                  _Westminster_, 1728.

                         [Price One Shilling.]


                                 TO THE
                      Right Reverend Father in GOD
                       Lord Bishop of St. ASAPH.


_If the_ Convocation _had been sitting, I would have made this
Dedication to them, and humbly implored of them, what, for their Love to
the Fathers, they would readily have granted, a Recommendation of these
my_ Discourses _on_ Miracles _to the_ Clergy: _But being unhappily
disappointed of a Session of that_ Reverend _and_ Learned _Body, for
whose wise Debates and orthodox Votes I have such a Veneration, as is
not to be express'd in a few Words, I presently turn'd my Thoughts on
your_ Lordship, _to whom a_ Dedication _is due, because of your Respect,
often declared, for the Authority of the Fathers, which induces me to
think, you now approve of the Use I have made of them_.

_But what I am here to applaud your_ Lordship _for, is, your_
Discourse _call'd_ Difficulties and Discouragements, _&c. That
admirable Satire against modern Orthodoxy and Persecution! How was I
tickled in the Perusal of it! It is plainly the Sense of your Soul, or
you had set your Name to it: And if the Temptation of Praise for it,
had not been too great to be resisted, I could have wish'd you had
always conceal'd your self; and then you had not written against the
Grain, an aukward Piece on_ Church Power, _like a Retraction, to
reingratiate your self with some Ecclesiastical_ Noodles, _whom you no
more, than, I need to care for_.

_I have sometimes wondered_, My Lord, _where and when the Great Mr._
Grounds _imbibed his notable Notions about Religion and Liberty; for
he suck'd them not in with his Mothers Milk, who, I suppose, train'd
him up in the Belief of Christianity: But when I consider'd, that he
was once the_ Pupil _of Mr._ Hare _at_ Cambridge, _my wonder ceas'd.
Under your_ Lordship_'s Tuition, it seems he laid the Foundation of
his distinguish'd Learning and Opinions! His Pupillage will be your
immortal Honour! I wonder, none of the Writers against him have as yet
celebrated your Praise for it! How does he imitate and resemble his_
Tutor _in Principles! I can't say, he surpasses you, since there is
such a Freedom of Thought and Expression in your_ Difficulties, _&c.
so strongly savouring of Infid--ty, that he has not as yet equall'd_.

_Upon your_ Lordship'_s Advancement to a Bishoprick_, Difficultys and
Discouragements _not withstanding, I wish'd, without prescribing to
the Wisdom of the Government in the choice of a learned Prelate, that
the great Mr._ Grounds, _for the good of the Church too, might be soon
consecrated: And I should not have despair'd of it, but that he is a_
Gentleman _of real Probity and Conscience, and might possibly boggle
at Subscriptions, unless you and Bishop_ Hoadly _could help him to
some of your_ Reserves _and_ Distinctions, _wherewith you must be both
well Stock'd, to overcome that_ Difficulty. _And why should not_ Dean
Swift _for his Writings, as well as some others, be made a Bishop? I
should like to see him one; if the_ then _Right Reverend Bishop_
Grounds _would not think him, for his_ Tale of a Tub, _too loose in
the Faith, for his Company_.

_Don't, imagine,_ My Lord, _that I am forming of Schemes for my self to
be a Bishop. Tho' these my_ Discourses _on_ Miracles _are of very great
Merit, as well as your Lordship's_ Difficulties, _&c. yet you may be
assured, I have no such View, when I tell you, that the Honour, the
Fathers have exalted me to, of a_ Moderator _in this Controversy, sets
me above all Ecclesiastical Preferment, excepting the_ Arch-Bishoprick
_of_ Canterbury, _which I'm afraid will be void, before the King is
apprised of my singular Worth and Qualifications for it_.

_But however, if such excellent_ Prelates, _as_ Grounds, Hoadly, Swift,
Hare _and_ my self _were at the Head of Ecclesiastical Affairs, what
would we do? What should we not do? What would not this free-thinking
Age expect from us? Nothing less, than that, according to our
Principles, we should endeavour to set Mankind at perfect Liberty, and
to lay open the dirty Fences of the Church, call'd Subscriptions, which
are not only the Stain of a good Conscience, but the_ Discouragements,
_your_ Lordship _hints at, in the Study of the Scriptures: And if we
made a Push for an Act of P----t to turn the_ Clergy _to Grass, after
King_ Henry VIIIth's _Monks and Fryars; where would be the Harm of it?
Nay, the Advantage to the Publick, as well as to Religion, would be
great, if their Revenues were apply'd to the Payment of National Debts;
with a Reserve to our selves_ (_remember_, My Lord) _of large Emoluments
out of them, according to our great Merits; otherwise worldly-wise Men
will repute us impolitick Fools, which you and Bishop_ Hoadly, _I humbly
presume, will never endure the Reproach of_.

_So, hoping your Lordship will accept of this Dedication to your
Praise, in as much Sincerity as it is written, I subscribe myself_,

[Sidenote: London, _May_ 14. 1728.]

      My LORD,
        The Admirer of your
          Difficultys and
  _Thomas Woolston._


                                A FOURTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

Now for a _fourth_ Discourse on _Jesus_'s Miracles, which, as before,
I begin with a Repetition of the three general Heads, at first
proposed to be treated on; and they are,

I. To show, that the Miracles of healing all manner of bodily
Diseases, which _Jesus_ was famed for, are none of the proper
Miracles of the _Messiah_; neither are they so much as a good Proof of
his divine Authority to found a Religion.

II. To prove that the literal History of many of the Miracles of
_Jesus_, as recorded by the _Evangelists_, does imply Absurdities,
Improbabilities and Incredibilities; consequently they, either in the
whole or in part, were never wrought, as it is commonly believed
now-a-days, but are only related as prophetical and parabolical
Narratives, of what would be mysteriously, and more wonderfully done
by him.

III. To consider what _Jesus_ means, when he appeals to his Miracles,
as to a Testimony and Witness of his divine Power; and to show that he
could not properly and ultimately refer to those he then wrought in
the _Flesh_, but to the mystical ones, he would do in the Spirit; of
which those wrought in the Flesh are but mere Types and Shadows.

I am upon the second of these Heads, and according to it, have, in my
_former Discourses_, taken into examination _eight_ of the Miracles of
_Jesus_, _viz._ those:

1. Of his driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple.

2. Of his exorcising the _Devils_ out of the Mad-men, and sending them
into the Herd of Swine.

3. Of his Transfiguration on the Mount.

4. Of his Healing a Woman, that had an Issue of Blood, twelve Years.

5. Of his curing a Woman, that had a Spirit of Infirmity, eighteen

6. Of his telling the _Samaritan_ Woman, her fortune of having had
five Husbands, and being than an Adulteress with another Man.

7. Of his cursing the Fig-tree for not bearing Fruit out of season. And,

8. Of his healing a Man of an Infirmity at the Pool of _Bethesda_.

Whether it be not manifest, that the Literal and Evangelical Story of
these Miracles, from what I have argu'd and reason'd upon them, does
not consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities, and Incredibilities,
according to the Proposition before us, let my Readers judge; and so I
come to the Consideration of

9. A ninth Miracle of _Jesus_, _viz._ that[205] of his giving sight to
a Man who was born blind, by the means of Eve-salve, made of Dirt and

Blindness, as far as one may guess by the Evangelical History, was the
Distemper that _Jesus_ frequently exercis'd his Power on: And there is
no doubt to be made, but he heal'd many of one Weakness, Defect and
Imperfection, or other in their Eyes, but whether he wrought any
Miracle upon any he is supposed to have cured, is uncertain. There
are, as it's notorious, many kinds of Blindness, that are incurable by
Art or Nature: and there are other kinds of it, that Nature and Art
will relieve a Man in. But whether _Jesus_ used his healing Power
against the former, as well as the latter sort of Blindness, is more
than can be affirm'd, or at least proved by our _Divines_. And unless
we knew of a certainty, that the sore or blind Eyes, _Jesus_ cured,
were absolutely out of the reach of Art and Nature; _Infidels_ will
imagine, and suggest, that he was only Master of a good Ointment for
sore Eyes, and being successful in the use of it, ignorant People
would needs think, he wrought Miracles.

The World is often bless'd with excellent _Oculists_, who thro' Study
and Practice have attain'd to wonderful Skill in Eye-Maladies, which,
tho' they are of various sorts, yet, by Custom of Speech all pass
under the general Name of _Blindness_. And sometimes we hear of famous
_Chance-Doctors_, like _Jesus_, who by a Gift of God, Nature, or
Fortune, without any Skill in the Structure of the Eyes, have been
very successful in the Cure of one Distemper or other incident to
them: Such was Sir _William Read_, who, tho' no Scholar, nor of
acquir'd Abilities in _Physick_ and _Surgery_, yet cured his Thousands
of sore or blind Eyes; and many of them too to the surprise and
astonishment of profess'd _Surgeons_ and _Physicians_. Whether He, or
_Jesus_, cured the greater number of Blindness may be question'd. To
please our _Divines_, it shall be granted that _Jesus_ cured the
greater Numbers; but that he cured worse or more difficult Distempers
in the Eyes, can't be proved. Sir _William_ indeed met with many Cases
of blind and sore Eyes, that were out of the reach of his Power; and
so did _Jesus_ too, or he had never let great Multitudes of the blind,
and otherwise distemper'd People, go unheal'd by him. Our _Divines_
will here say, that it was never want of Power in _Jesus_, but want of
Faith in the diseased, if he did not heal them; but in other
_Surgeons_ and _Physicians_, it is confessedly their own
Insufficiency: To which I have only this Answer, that our
_Physicians_ and _Surgeons_ are to be commended for their Ingenuity,
to impute it to their own Defect of Power, and not to lay the Blame
upon their Patients, when they can't cure them: And it is luckly for
us Christians, that we have _this Salvo_ for the Credit of _Jesus_'s
miraculously healing Power, that it was not fit, he should exert it
against Unbelief; otherwise reasonably speaking, He with Sir _William
Read_, _Greatrex_, _Vespasian_, our former _Kings_ of _England_, and
_Seventh-Sons_, must have pass'd but for a _Chance-Doctor_.

But to come to the particular Consideration of the Miracle before us.
_Jesus_ restored, it seems, a blind Man to his Eye-sight, by the use
of a peculiar Ointment, and washing of his Eyes, as directed, in the
Pool of _Siloam_. Where lies the Miracle? I can't see it; but hope our
_Divines_ will take their opportunity to point it out to me. Our
_Surgeons_, with their Ointments and Washings can cure sore and blind
Eyes of one sort or other; and _Jesus_ did no more here; and yet he
must be reckon'd a Worker of Miracles; and they but artificial
Operators: where's the Sense and Reason of this difference between
them? If Mr. _Moor_, the _Apothecary_, for the notable Cures he
performs, by the means of his Medicines, should write himself, and be
accounted by his Admirers, a _Miracle-worker_; he and they would be
but laugh'd at for it: And yet _Jesus_ for his curing the sore Eyes of
a poor Man with an Ointment, must be had in veneration for a divine
and miraculous Operator, as much as if by the breath of his Mouth he
had removed an huge Mountain!

A Miracle, if I mistake not the Notion of our _Divines_ about it, is a
supernatural Event, or a Work out of the Power of Nature or Art to
effect. And when it is spoken of the Cure of a Disease, as of
Blindness or Lameness, it ought to be so represented, as that skilful
and experienced _Surgeons_ and _Physicians_, who can do strange and
surprizing Cures by Art, may give it upon their judgment, that no
Skill of Man could reach that Operation; but that it ought to pass for
the Work of a divine and almighty Hand and Power. But there is no such
care taken in the Description of any of the Diseases, which _Jesus_
cured; much less of this before us; against the miraculousness of
which, consequently, there are these two Exceptions to be made:

_First_, that we know nothing of the Nature of this poor Man's
Blindness; nor what was the defect of his Eyes; nor whether it was
curable by Art or not: Without which Knowledge, it is impossible and
unreasonable to assert, that there was a Miracle wrought in the Cure
of him. If his blindness or weakness of Eye-sight was curable by human
means, and Jesus did use those means, there's an end of the Miracle.
If the _Evangelist_ had given us an accurate Description of the
Condition of this Man's Eyes before Cure, we could have judg'd better:
But this is their constant neglect in all the Distempers _Jesus_
heal'd, and is enough to induce us to doubt of his miraculous Power.
There are, as I have said, some sorts of sore or blind Eyes curable by
Art, as Experience does testify; and there are others incurable, as
_Physicians_ and _Patients_ do lament. Of which sort this Man's was,
we know not. The worst that we know of his Case, is, that he was blind
from his Birth, or Infancy, which might be: and yet Time, Nature and
Art, may give relief to him. As a Man advances in Years, the diseases
of Childhood and Youth wear off. What we call the _King's-Evil_, or an
Inflammation in the Eyes, in time will abate of its Malignity. Nature
will not only by degrees work the Cure it-self, but the seasonable
help of a good _Oculist_ will soon expedite it, tho' in time of
Infancy he could be of no use. And who knows but this might be the
Case of this blind Man, whose Cure _Jesus_ by his Art did only hasten
and help forward. However, there are Grounds enough to suspect, that
it was not divine Power which heal'd this Man, or _Jesus_ had never
prepared and order'd an _Ointment_ and _Wash_ for him.

Should our _Divines_ suppose or describe, for the _Evangelist_, a
state of Blindness in this Man, incurable by Art; that would be
begging the Question, which no Unbeliever will grant. But to please
them, I will yield, without Enquiry into the Nature of this Man's
Blindness, that, if _Jesus_ had used no Medicines; if with only a word
of his Mouth he had cured the Man, and he had instantaneously
recover'd, as the Word was spoken; here would have been a real and
great Miracle, let the Blindness or Imperfection of the Man's Sight
before, be of what kind or degree soever. But _Jesus_'s use of
Washings and Ointments absolutely spoils and destroys the Credit of
the Miracle, and we ought by no means to ascribe _that_ to the
immediate Hand and Power of God, which _Medicines_ and _Balsams_ are
apply'd to the Effect of. And this brings me to the

_Second_ Exception against the miraculousness of the Cure of this
blind Man, which is, that _Jesus_ used human means for the Cure of
him; which means, whether they were at all proper and effectual in
themselves, do affect the Credit of the Miracle, and give occasion of
suspicion, that it was Art and not divine Power that heal'd him, or
_Jesus_, for his Honour, had never had recourse to the use of them.
And what were those Means, or that Medicine, which _Jesus_ made use
of? Why, "He spit upon the Ground, and made a Balsam of Dirt and
Spittle, and anointed the poor Man's Eyes with it, and he recover'd."
A strange and odd sort of an Ointment, that I believe was never used
before, nor since, for sore and blind Eyes! I am not Student enough in
_Physick_ and _Surgery_ to account for the natural and rational use of
this Balsam; but wish that skilful Professors of those Sciences would
help me out at this difficulty. If they could rationally account for
the use of this Eye-salve, tho' it was by supposing, that Jesus
imperceptibly had in his Mouth a proper unctuous and balsamick
Substance, which he dissolv'd into Spittle, they would do great
service to a certain Cause; and I wonder none of them, whether well
or ill affected to Religion, have as yet bent their Thoughts to it.

In the Practice of _Physick_ and _Surgery_, there are sometimes very
odd and unaccountable Medicaments made use of; and now-and-then very
whimsical and seemingly ridiculous ones, by old Women, to good
Purpose: But none of them are to be compared to _Jesus_'s Balsam for
sore Eyes. I have heard of a merry _Mountebank_ of Distinction, whose
catholick Medicine was _Hasty-Pudding_, which indeed is a notable
Remedy against the _Esuriency_ of the Stomach, that the Poor often
labour under. But _Jesus_'s Eye-Salve, for absurdity, whim, and
incongruity, was never equall'd, either in jest or in earnest, by any
_Quack-Doctor_. Whether _Infidels_ think of this Ointment of the Holy
_Jesus_ with a smile; or reflect on it with disdain, I can't guess. As
to myself, I should think with St. _Chrysostom_[206], that this
Eye-Salve of _Jesus_ would sooner put a Man's Eyes out, than restore a
blind one to his Sight. And I believe that our _Divines_, for the
Credit of the Miracle, and our _Surgeons_, for the Honour of their
Science, will agree, that it could not be naturally operative and
effective of the Cure of the blind Man.

What then was the Reason of _Jesus_'s using this strange Eye-Salve;
when, for the sake of the Miracle, and for the honour of his own Power,
he should have cured the Man with a word speaking? This is a Question
and Objection in St. _Cyril_[207] against Ministers of the Letter, who
are obliged to give an Answer to it, that will consist with the Wisdom
and Power of _Jesus_, otherwise they must give up the Miracle or make
him a vain, insignificant and trifling Agent. St. _Cyril_, of whose mind
I am, says[208] that the Reason of the use of this Balsam made of Dirt
and Spittle is to be fetch'd from the Mystery. But, in as much as our
_Divines_ will never agree to that, which would be of ill Consequence to
their Ministry, they must give a good Reason of their own, which I
despair of seeing, that will comport with the Letter.

St. _Irenæus_ too, says[209], that the _Clay and Spittle_ was of no
service to the Cure of the blind Man; and yet _Jesus_ did not use it
_in vain_. Is not this an Inconsistency? How will our _Divines_ adjust
it? With _Irenæus_, I am sure they'll not mystically solve the
Difficulty; therefore if they don't provide another Solution of it to
satisfaction; either their Ministry of the Letter, or the Reputation
of _Jesus_, and this Miracle must suffer for it.

I am puzzled to think, how our _Divines_ will extricate themselves out
of this Strait, and account for the use of this Eye-Salve, without any
Diminution of the Miracle. Surely, they will not say that _Jesus_ used
this sensless and insignificant Ointment to put a _Slur_ upon the
Practice of _Physick_ and _Surgery_, as if other Medicines were of no
more avail than his _Dirt_ and _Spittle_. They have more wit than to say
so; least it incense a noble and most useful Profession, not so much
against themselves, as against _Jesus_, and provoke them to a nicer and
stricter Enquiry, than I can make into his Miracles, the Diseases he
cured, and his manner of Operation; and to infer from thence, that he
could be no miraculous Healer of Diseases who used Medicines; nor his
_Evangelists_ orthodox at Theology, who were so inexpert at Anatomy and
the Description of bodily Distempers. This might be of bad Consequence
to Religion: And yet I wonder that none of them, who may be supposed a
little disaffected to Christianity, have taken the Hint from this
pretended Miracle before us, and some others, to endeavour at a Proof of
_Jesus_'s being little better than a _Quack-Doctor_.

If I was, what I am not, an _Infidel_, I should think, from the Letter
of this Story, that _Jesus_ was a _juggling Impostor_, who would pass
for a miraculous Healer of Diseases, tho' he used underhand, proper
Medicines. The _Clay and the Spittle_ he made an open shew of, as
what, to Admiration, he would cure the blind Man with; but in reserve
he had a more sanative Balsam, that he subtilly slip't in the room of
the Clay, and repeatedly to good purpose anointed the Man's Eyes with
it. But as the Authority of the Fathers, and their mystical
Interpretation of this Story is alone my safe-guard against such an
ill opinion of _Jesus_; so I would now gladly know upon what Bottom
the Faith of our _Divines_ can stand, as to this Miracle, and
_Jesus_'s divine Power in it.

I have perused some of our _Commentators_ on the Place, and don't
perceive that they hesitate at this strange Eye-Salve; nor make any
Questions about the pertinent or impertinent Use of it. Whether it is,
that they sleep over the Story, or are aware of greater Difficultys in
it, than can be easily surmounted, and therefore dare not touch on't,
I know not. But now that we enjoy Liberty of debate, which will make
us Philosophers, and I have taken the Freedom to make a stricter
Scrutiny than ordinary into _Jesus_'s Miracles, and to consider what
Absurditys, their Stories, and _this_ in particular, are clog'd with;
it is incumbent on our _Divines_ to answer solidly these Questions,
_viz._ What was the Reason of _Jesus_'s Use of this Eye-Salve made of
Clay and Spittle? Whether, if it was of service to the Cure of the
blind Man, it does not destroy the Miracle? And if it had no effect in
the Cure of him, whether _Jesus_ was not a _vain_ and _trifling_
Operator, making use of insignificant and impertinent Medicines to the
Diminution of his divine Power? There Questions are not ludicrous,
but _calm and sedate Reasoning_, which _Bishop Smalbroke_[210] does
not disapprove of. Therefore a grave, rational, and substantial Answer
is expected to them, such as will be a Vindication of the Wisdom and
Power of _Jesus_, without any Diminution of the Miracle.

Should our _Divines_ say, that this Matter was an Act of unsearchable
Wisdom and must be left to the Will of our Saviour, and not curiously
pry'd into, any more than some other Dispensations of Providence, that
are past finding out: This Answer, which I believe to be the best,
that can be given, will not do here. The Miracles of _Jesus_ are, as
our _Divines_ own, Appeals to our Reason and Senses for his Authority;
and by our Reason and Senses they are to be try'd, condemn'd or
approved of. If they will not abide the test of Reason and Sense, they
are to be rejected, and _Jesus_'s Authority along with them. Therefore
a more close, pertinent and serious Answer is to be given to the said
Questions; which as I believe to be impossible, consistently with the
Letter; so our _Divines_ must of necessity go along with me to the
Fathers for a mystical and allegorical Interpretation of the Story of
this Eye-Salve; or the Miracle will fall to the Ground, and _Jesus_'s
divine Power be in great danger with it.

St. _Cyril_, (who is one of _Bishop Smalbroke_'s Greek Commentators,
that should strictly adhere to the Letter) signifies, as I before
observ'd, that _Jesus_'s Use of this Clay and Spittle would be an
Absurdity, if it was not to be accounted for, from the Mystery.

_Eusebius Gallicanus_, treating on this Miracle, says[211]; "that our
Saviour apparently manifests that his Miracles are of a spiritual and
mystical Signification, because in the Work of them, he does somewhat
or other, that literally has no Sense nor Reason in it. As for
Instance, in the Cure of this blind Man, what occasion was there for
_Clay and Spittle_ to anoint his Eyes, if it was not of a mystical
meaning, when with a Word of his Mouth, _Jesus_ could have cured him?
Let us then set aside the Letter of the Story, and Search for the
Mystery, and consider who is meant by this Blind Man, _&c._"

_Origen_ too, upon occasion of this Miracle, and its Absurdity
according to the Letter, says[212]; "that whatever _Jesus_ did in the
Flesh was but a Type and Figure of what he would do in Spirit, as is
apparent from the Miracle of his curing a blind Man, which nobody
knows why it was so done, if it be not to be understood of a mystical
Ointment to open the Eyes of the blind in Understanding."

And who then is this blind Man mystically? St. _Augustin_[213], St.
_Jerome_[214], _Eusebius Gallicanus_[215], St. _Theophilus_ of
_Antioch_[216], _Origen_[217], St. _Cyril_ of _Alexandria_[218], and St.
_Theophylact_[219], (Four of them, _Bishop Smalbroke_'s Greek and
literal Commentators!) say, this _blind Man_ is a Type of Mankind of all
Nations, who in the Perfection of Time signified by the Sabbath[220] in
the Story, is to be cured of this Blindness in Understanding.

And what is Mankind's Blindness here signified? St. _Augustin_[221],
St. _Cyril_[222] and St. _Theophylact_[223], say, it is Ignorance,
Error and Infidelity, or the want of the intellectual Sight and
Knowledge of God and his Providence. _Origen_[224], St. _John_ of
_Jerusalem_[225], and St. _Theophylact_[226], (Still _Bishop
Smalbroke_'s literal and Greek Commentators!) tell us the Reason of
this spiritual Blindness of Mankind, that is, because they adhere to
the Letter of the Scriptures.

And how will _Jesus_, or right _Reason_ and _Truth_, which are his
mystical Names, cure Mankind of this his spiritual Blindness? By his
mystical _Spittle_ temper'd with mystical _Dirt_. And how shall we do to
understand this mystical Ointment, so as to make it a proper Medicine
for Mankind's spiritual Blindness? St. _Theophilus_ of _Antioch_[227],
has an allegorical Interpretation of this _Clay_ and _Spittle_ of our
Lord; but as it is hard to apprehend his meaning, I shall not here
insist on it. _Origen_ says[228], that the anointing of the blind Man's
Eyes with _Spittle_, is to be understood of the Unction of the _Spirit_
of Christ. But this does not give us rightly to understand the Metaphor
and Figure. St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_ says, that by the _Clay_ and
_Spittle_ is meant[229] _perfect Doctrine_, which in Truth may open the
Eyes of Mens Understanding: But what is _perfect Doctrine_? Why, to help
the Fathers out here, without departing from their Opinions, by the
_Spittle_ of Jesus must be understood the _Water_ of the Spirit
instill'd into the _Earth_ of the Letter of the Scriptures, which
temper'd together, does, in the Judgment of them all, make _perfect
Doctrine_ to the opening of the Eyes of our Understanding in the
Knowledge of the Providence of God of all Ages; which Knowledge, Light,
Sight, or Illumination, Mankind has hitherto wanted.

St. _Irenæus_[230], gives an excellent and mystical Reason, by
himself, for the use of this Ointment of _Clay_ and _Spittle_, to the
Cure of this blind Man, which I shall not stay to illustrate, but only
have cited it for the Meditation of the Learned and Curious.

The Story of the blind Man, as St. _John_ has related it, is long, and
would take up more time, than I have to spare at present, to go thro'
all the Parts of it. What I have done at present is enough to awaken
others to the Consideration, not only of the Absurdities of the
Letter, but of the mystical Interpretation of the rest.

The Miracle, which consisted literally in the Cure of a blind Man by
the use of an Ointment made of _Dirt_ and _Spittle_, is absurd,
sensless and unaccountable; but in the Mystery, there is Wisdom and
Reason. And the Cure of Mankind of the Blindness of his Understanding,
by the _Spirit_'s being temper'd with the _Letter_ of the Scriptures,
which is the mystical _Eye-Salve_, will not only be a most stupendous
Miracle, but a Proof of _Jesus_'s _Messiahship_ beyond all
contradiction, in as much as by such an opening of the Eyes of our
Understandings, which have been hitherto dark, we shall see, how he is
the Accomplishment of the Law and the Prophets. And so I pass to a

10. Tenth Miracle of Jesus, _viz._[231] _That of his turning Water
into Wine, at a Marriage in_ Cana _of_ Galilee. This is call'd the
beginning of _Jesus_'s Miracles; but whether it is to be understood of
the _First_ of his whole Life, or of the _First_ that he wrought in
_Cana_ of _Galilee_, is not agreed amongst _Divines_. I shall not
enter into the Dispute, which as it is of no Consequence to my Cause
in hand; so I shall pass it by, and not urge any Arguments for or
against either side of it.

Tho' I would not for the World be so impious and profane as to
believe, what is contain'd and imply'd in the Letter of this Story;
yet I am still too grave to handle it as ludicrously as I ought; and
it is now against the grain, that I write so freely, as I shall
against it, being unwilling, not only to put the _Clergy_ out of all
Temper, but, to give _Scoffers_ and _Infidels_ so great an Advantage
against their Ministry of the Letter. Some may wonder that I, who have
gone so far in the ludicrous display of the gross Absurdities of some
other Miracles, should boggle at this. But to be ingenuous, and speak
the Truth sincerely, I am still a Christian (for all what the
_Bishop_ of St. _David_'s,[232] _Archdeacon Stubbs_, and others would
make of me) upon the Principles of the Fathers, and have a greater
Veneration for the Person of the Holy _Jesus_, than to be forward to
make such sport with him, his Mother, and his Disciples, as this Story
affords Scope for. And if it was not for the necessity of turning the
_Clergy_'s Heads to the Consideration of Mysteries; this Miracle
should have been pass'd by in silence.

There were some antiently, whom St. _Chrysostom_[233] writes of,
whether _Jews_, _Gentiles_, or _Hereticks_, I know not, who took great
offence at the Story of this Wedding, accounting it, from what is
related in St. _John_, as a riotous Feast, and that _Jesus_ and his
Mother, and his Disciples, not only bore a part in the Revellings, but
were most to blame for them, or he should not have countenanced them
with his Presence, much less promoted them, by the Change of a large
quantity of Water into Wine for the use of a Company, who were already
_drunk_ with it. But I, with St. _Chrysostom_, am inclined to
believe, that, if _Jesus_ did grace this Wedding with his Presence,
there was no Excess encouraged, or so much as suffer'd at it. If he
did accept of the Invitation of the Bridegroom, it was for an
Opportunity, not so much to turn _Water_ into _Wine_, as to make a
proper Discourse to the People of conjugal Duties; and, as he was a
Searcher of the Hearts, secretly to admonish the Married of the Sin
and Mischief of Adultery; tho' we read not of a seasonable and good
Word spoken at it.

And the Empress _Eudocia_, a nursing Mother of the Church, has given
us a Poetical, and I hope a fictitious Description of this Wedding.
She makes a sumptuous and voluptuous Feast of it; and writes[234] of
_Musick_ and _Dancing_ in abundance, enough to make us think of such
Mirth and Pastime here, as was unbecoming of a Company of Saints to be
present at. Whether it was, that this _Empress_, being only
accustom'd to the Excesses of a Court, could form no meaner
Conceptions of a Country Wedding; or whether she had any
extra-scriptural Authority for what she writ, I know not: But I
believe, that, if _Jesus_ was at all at a Marriage-Feast, the whole
was conducted with Decency, Order, and Sobriety; and if he there
wrought any Miracle, it was to manifest his Glory, to the Conversion
of some, and Confirmation of the Faith of others.

And our _Translators_ of the _Bible_ too have given occasion to
suspect somewhat of Excess at this Wedding; or they need not have made
the Waterpots to hold two or three Firkins apiece. If I had been the
Translator, they should not have held above two or three _Pints_
apiece, which Measure is as agreeable to the Original as _Firkin_;
neither can I imagine, that _Jesus_, if he did convert Water into
Wine, would do it in so large a Measure, for fear of an intemperate
abuse of it, but only gave the Company a cast of his miraculous Power,
and a little Taste of his Love and Good-will to them.

Such are the Conceptions, that, to the Honour of _Jesus_, I am willing
to form of this _Wedding_; and wish that the Letter of the Story did
suggest no worse Thoughts of it to us. I should be pleas'd, if no
_Infidel_ really could, what I, but for the sake of the Mystery most
unwillingly should, write any ludicrous Descants on it. But if this
Story had been related of _Apollonius Tyranæus_, as it is of our
_Jesus_, I would have ridicul'd and satiriz'd it to the utmost of my
Power, and have render'd him and his Disciples of all Nations, as
contemptible as I could, for the Belief of it; and I don't doubt, but
our Christian _Priests_ would have given me ample Praises and
Commendations for so doing. It is said of _Apollonius_, that for the
Entertainment of his Friends, he commanded variety of nice Dishes of
Meat, together with Bowls of choicest Wines, all on a sudden to descend
upon his Table and range themselves in good Order. Whether there was any
Truth in this Miracle of _Apollonius_, is not the Question; but Mr.
_Chandler_[235] could see a Fault in it, (tho' none in _Jesus_'s Wine at
this Wedding) as if it was done for the Pleasure of luxurious Appetites,
tho' we read of no Intemperance at it, which can't be said of the
_Wedding-Feast_ before us. Our _Divines_ I suppose, no more than
myself, believe any thing of the said Miracle in _Apollonius_; but, if
it was really wrought, I fancy, I could have lampoon'd him for it, and
would have made it a diabolical Work, like that, as Fables go, of the
Feastings of _Wizards_ and _Witches_; and our _Divines_ (passing by
_Jesus_'s _Wine_ here) would readily, as they are Believers of the
Storys of Witchcraft, have struck in with me.

But setting aside that miraculous Story of _Apollonius_, which has but
_one_ Voucher; the Case before us is _Jesus_'s _turning Water into
Wine_ for the use of Men, who had before _well drank_. How shall I
force Nature and Faith to ridicule this Story? How shall I lay aside
that profound Veneration for the Holy _Jesus_, which Conversation with
the Fathers, more than the Prejudice of Education has begotten in me,
and ludicrously here treat him and his Miracle too, as is incumbent
upon me, to make way for the Mystery? In short, I can't do it, in my
own Name; but having met with a satirical Invective of a supposed
Jewish _Rabbi_ to this purpose, I here publish it, that our _Clergy_,
as well as myself, may think of an Answer to it, and so prevent that
Mischief it may do by being handed about among _Jews_ and _Infidels_,
in Manuscript. It is as follows;

    "You Christians pay Adoration to _Jesus_, whom you believe to be a
    divine Author of Religion, sent of God for the Instruction,
    Reformation and Salvation of Mankind, and what induces you to this
    Belief of him, is, (besides some obscure Prophecies, which you can't
    agree upon, and which neither your selves, nor any body else
    understands the Application of) the History of his Miracles: But I
    wonder, you should have a good opinion of him for his Miracles,
    which, if he wrought no better than what are recorded of him, by
    your _Evangelists_, are, if duly consider'd, enough to alienate your
    Hearts from him. I can't spare time now to examine into all of them,
    but according to the cursory Observation I have made on them, there
    is not one so well circumstanced, as to merit a considerate Man's
    belief, that it was the Work of an omnipotent, all-wise, just and
    good Agent. Some of them are absurd Tales, others foolish Facts,
    others unjust Actions, others ludicrous Pranks, others jugling
    Tricks, others magical Enchantments; and if many of them had been
    better and greater Operations than they are, and of a more useful
    and stupendous Nature than they seem to be; yet the first Miracle
    that he wrought, _viz._ that of his _turning Water into Wine_ at an
    extravagant and voluptuous Wedding at _Cana_ of _Galilee_, is enough
    to turn our Stomachs against all the rest. It is in itself enough to
    beget in us an ill opinion of _Jesus_, and to prepossess us with an
    aversion to his Religion, without farther Examination into it. It is
    enough to make us suspect his other Miracles, of what Name soever,
    to be of a base, magical, and diabolical Extraction; or he had never
    set up for a divine worker of Miracles with so ill a grace. Would
    any sober, grave, serious and divine Person, as you Christians
    suppose _Jesus_ to have been, have vouchsafed his Presence at a
    Wedding; where such Levities, Diversions and Excesses (in our Nation
    of the _Jews_, as well as in all others) were indulg'd on such
    Occasions, as were not fit to be seen, much less countenanc'd by the
    _Saint_, you would make of him. If your _Jesus_, his Mother, and his
    Disciples had not been merry Folks in themselves, they would have
    declined the Invitation of the _Bridegroom_; nay, it they had been
    at all graver and more serious People than ordinary, no Invitation
    had been given to such _Spoil-Sports_: But boon Companions they
    were, and of comical Conversation, or there had been at a Wedding no
    Room for them. You Christians may fancy, what you please, of _Jesus_
    and his Mother's Saintship; but the very Text of the Story implies,
    they were Lovers of good Fellowship and Excess too, upon occasion;
    or he had never, upon her Intimation, turn'd so large a quantity of
    Water into Wine, after all or most of the Company were far gone with
    it. You may suppose, if you please, that all were sober, and none
    intoxicated, and that the Want of Wine proceeded from the abundance
    of Company, rather than excess in drinking; but why then did _John_
    the _Evangelist_ use the word μεθυσθασι, which implies, they were
    more than half Seas over? And if _Jesus_ and his Mother had not both
    a mind to _top_ them up; the one would not have requested, nor the
    other have granted a Miracle to that purpose. Whether _Jesus_ and
    his Mother themselves were at all _cut_, as were others of the
    Company, is not so certain. She might be an abstemious Dame for
    ought we know; tho' if old Stories are true of her familiarity with
    a _Soldier_, of whom came her _chara Deûm Soboles_, in all
    probability she would take a _Dram_ and a _Bottle_ too. But it looks
    as if _Jesus_ himself was a little _in_ for't, or he had never spoke
    so waspishly and snappishly to his Mother, saying, _Woman, what have
    I to do with thee_? _mine Hour is not yet come_: which was very
    unbecoming of a dutiful Son, who, excepting when he ran away from
    his Parents, and put them to[236] _Sorrow_ and _Trouble_ to look him
    up, was, and is still in Heaven, say the _Roman Catholicks_ a most
    obedient Child. You modern Christians may put what Construction you
    can upon the words above of _Jesus_ to his Mother, to salve his
    Credit; but the Fathers of your Church[237] confess them to be a
    sharp and surly Reply to her, which, if it did not proceed from the
    natural badness of his Temper, derived, _ex traduce_, from his
    supposed Father yet, was certainly the effect of Drinking, and
    that's the more likely, because it is a _broken_ and _witless_
    Sentence, such as _Fuddlecaps_ utter by halves, when the _Wine's
    in_, and the _Wit's out_. Your modern _Commentators_ are sadly
    puzzled to make good Sense of this broken and abrupt Sentence of
    _Jesus_, and a pertinent Reply of it, to what his Mother said to
    him, _they have no Wine_: If you will bear with me, I'll help you
    out at this dead lift, and give you the true meaning of it _thus_.
    _Jesus_'s Mother being apprised of a deficiency of Wine, and
    willing, as well as the _Bridegroom_, that the Company should be
    thorowly merry before they parted, intimates to her Son, (whom she
    knew to be initiated in the Mysterys of _Bacchus_) _that they had no
    Wine_: But before she could finish her Request to him, He, mistaking
    her meaning, imagines, she was cautioning against drinking more
    Wine, and exhorting him to go home; whereupon he takes her up short
    and quick, saying, _Woman, what have you to do with me?_ (for that
    too is the _English_ of the _Greek_) I'll not be interrupted in my
    Cups, nor break Company; _for mine Hour is not yet come_ to depart:
    But after he rightly apprehended her, he goes to work, and rather
    than the Company should want their fill, by trick of Art, like a
    _Punch-maker_, meliorates Water into what they call'd Wine. That
    this is the obvious Interpretation, and natural Paraphrase of the
    Words before us, shall be try'd by the Absurd Comments now-a-days
    put upon them, that are enough to make a considerate Man laugh, if
    not hiss at them.

     "Some antient Hereticks[238], very gravely inferr'd from this
     Expression, _Woman, what have I to do with thee_, that _Mary_ was
     neither a Virgin, nor _Jesus_ her Son; or he had never accosted her
     with such blunt Language, that implys, they could not be so akin to
     each other. This was a perplexity to St. _Augustin_, and gave him
     some trouble to explain the Expression, consistently with her
     Virginity (for all she cohabited with the old Carpenter) and his
     Filiation. But this being a quibble, that has been long since
     dropt, I shall not revive, nor insist on it. But that the
     Expression above do's suppose a little Inebriation, in _Jesus_, I
     may avert, neither is there a better Solution to be made of it.

     "The Fathers of your Church, being sensible of the absurdity,
     abruptness, impertinence, pertness, and senslesness of the Passage
     before us according to the Letter, had recourse to a mystical and
     allegorical Interpretation, as the only way to make it consistent
     with the Wisdom, Sobriety and Duty of the Holy _Jesus_. But you
     _Moderns_, abandoning Allegories and Mysteries on Miracles, have
     endeavour'd, I say, to put other Constructions upon it, as may
     comport with the Letter and Credit of Jesus: But how insipid and
     sensless they are, I appeal to a reasonable Man, who will give
     himself the trouble to consult them, upon the Place, and save me
     the Pains of a tedious and nauseous Work to recount them for him.

     "But to Humour the Christian Priesthood at this Day, I will suppose
     that _Jesus_, and his Mother, and Disciples, tho' Fishermen, to
     have been all sober, grave and serious at this Wedding, suitably to
     the Opinion that their Followers now would have us to entertain of
     them. But then it is hard to conceive them, less than Spectators
     and even Encouragers of Excess and Intemperance in others; or
     _Jesus_, after their more than sufficient drinking for the
     satisfaction of Nature, had never turn'd Water into Wine, nor would
     his Mother have requested him to do it, if, I say, they had not a
     mind, and took Pleasure in it too, to see the Company quite
     _stitch'd up_.

     "A sober, prudent and wise Philosopher or _Magician_, in the place
     of _Jesus_, if he had an Art or Power to turn Water into Wine,
     would never have exercised it upon such an occasion; no, not to
     please his best Friends, nor in obedience to the most indulgent
     Parent. What would he have said in such a Case? That the Company
     had drank sufficiently already, and there was no need of more Wine:
     The Bridegroom had kindly and plentifully entertain'd his Guests,
     and he would not for the Honour of God, who had endow'd him with a
     divine Power, be at the Expence of a Miracle to promote the least
     Intemperance. Whether such a Speech and Resolution in _Jesus_, upon
     this occasion, would not have been more commendable, than what he
     did, let any one judge.

     "If I was a Christian, I would, for the Honour of _Jesus_, renounce
     this Miracle, and not magnify and extol it as a divine and good
     Act, as many now-a-days do. I would give into, and contend for the
     Truth of _that Gloss_, which the _Gentiles_ of old[239] by way of
     Objection put upon it, _viz. That the Company having exhausted the
     Bridegroom's Stock of Wine, and being in Expectation of more_;
     Jesus, _rather than the Bridegroom should be put to the Blush for
     deficiency, palm'd a false Miracle, by the help of the Governour of
     the Feast, upon a drunken Crew; that is, having some spirituous
     Liquors at hand, mingled them with a quantity of Water, which the
     Governour of the Feast vouch'd to be incomparable good Wine,
     miraculously made by_ Jesus: _and the Company being, thro' a
     vitiated Palate, uncapable of distinguishing better from worse, and
     of discovering the Fraud, admired the Wine and the Miracle; and
     applauded_ Jesus _for it, and perhaps became his Disciples upon
     it_. If I, I say, was a Disciple of _Jesus_, I would give this
     Story such an old turn for his Credit. And I appeal to indifferent
     Judges, whether such a daubing of the Miracle, to remove the
     Offence of _Infidels_ at this Day, would not be politically and
     wisely done of me. Whether modern Christians may be brought into
     such a Notion of this supposed Miracle, I know not; but really
     there is room enough to suspect such a Fraud in it.

     "But supposing _Jesus_'s Change of Water into Wine to have been a
     real Miracle; none commission'd of God for the Reformation and
     Instruction of Mankind would ever have done it here. Miracles (as
     Mr. _Chandler_[240] says excellently well) _must be such things, as
     that it is consistent with the Perfections of God, to interest
     himself in_; and again, _they must argue not only the Power of God,
     but his Love to Mankind, and his Inclination to do them good_;
     which this of _Jesus_ is so far from, that it has an evil Aspect
     and Tendency, as is above represented; consequently it is to be
     rejected, and no longer esteem'd a divine Miracle; neither is
     _Jesus_ to be received as a Revealer of God's Will for it, as Mr.
     _Chandler_ will bear me witness.

     "No doubt on't, but you Christian Priests would have us _Jews_ and
     _Infidels_, to believe the whole Company at this Wedding, for all
     what is intimated by St. _John_ to the contrary, to consist of
     sober and demure Saints. I will suppose so; but then, what occasion
     had they at all for Wine? What reason could there be for God's
     Power to interpose and make it, especially in so large a quantity,
     for them? I can conceive none. If any of the Company had been taken
     with fainting Fits; and _Jesus_ for want of a Cordial Bottle, had
     created a chearing Drain or two, I could not have found fault with
     it; tho' even here, if he had restored the _Patient_ with a word of
     his Mouth, it had been a better Miracle, than making of Wine for
     him: But that he should make for a Company of Sots, a large
     quantity of Wine, of no less than twelve or eighteen Firkins of
     _English_ Measure, enough to intoxicate the whole Town of _Cana_ of
     _Galilee_, is what can never be accounted for by a Christian, who
     should, one would think, wish this Story, for the Reputation of
     _Jesus_ expunged out of the New Testament.

     "Besides, if _Jesus_ had really and miraculously made Wine, which
     no Power or Art of Man could do, he should, to prevent all
     suspicion of deceit in the Miracle, have done it without the use of
     Water. You Christians say, he is the original Cause of all Things
     out of nothing; why then did he not[241] create this Wine out of
     nothing? why did he not order the Pots to be emptied of their
     Water, if there was any in them, and then with a word of his Mouth
     command the filling them with Wine instead of it? Here had been an
     unexceptionable Miracle, which no _Infidels_ could have cavil'd at,
     for any thing, but the _needlessness_ of it. But this subject
     Matter of Water spoils the Credit of the Miracle. The Water-Pots,
     it seems, are to be fill'd, before _Jesus_ could do the notable
     Feat; is not this enough to make us think, that Jesus was but an
     artificial _Punch-maker_? Could not he create Wine without Water
     for a Transmutation? Yes, you'll say he could: what was the Reason
     then, that he did not? This is a reasonable Question to a learned
     Priesthood: and a rational Answer should be given to it. And a
     Question too it is that heretofore has been under debate. Some said
     that the Water might be used to abate of the[242] immensity of the
     Miracle, which otherwise for its greatness might have surpass'd all
     Belief. But this Reason will not do. A Miracle can't be too great
     in itself, if well attested, to transcend Credit: but it may easily
     be too little to conciliate the Faith of a Free-Thinker. The
     Fathers of your Church fetch'd a Reason, for the use of Water here,
     from the Mystery; but since Mysterys on Miracles are set aside by
     the Priesthood of this Age, they are to assign another and good
     Reason of their own; or this Miracle is to be rejected, as a Piece
     of Art and Craft in the Operator, if for no other Reason than
     this, that _Jesus_ used Water to make Wine.

     "All that I have to say more to this Miracle, is, that it is to be
     wish'd, if Jesus could turn Water into Wine, that he had imparted
     the Secret and Power to his Disciples of the _Priesthood_ of all
     Ages since, which would have been of greatest Advantage to them in
     this World. He has empower'd them, they say, to remit Sins, which
     few old Sinners think themselves the less in danger for: And he has
     enabled them, some say, to transubstantiate Bread into Flesh, and
     Wine into Blood, which none but foolish and superstitious Folks
     believe they ever did: And he promised to invest them with a Power
     to do greater Miracles than himself, even to remove Mountains, and
     to curse Trees; but I thank God, they never were of so strong a
     Faith, as to put it in Practice, or we might have heard of the
     _natural_ state, as well as we do now of the _civil_ state of some
     Countrys, ruin'd and overturn'd by them. But this Power to
     transmute _Water into Wine_, without Labour and Expence, would have
     been of better worth to them, than all their other Priestly
     Offices. Not, that our Conduits would thereupon run with Wine,
     instead of Water; or that Wine would be cheaper and more plentiful
     than it is now, excepting among themselves, if they could withal
     curse Vineyards. They would make the best Penny they a could of
     their divine Power. And as surely as they can now fell the
     Waterdrops of their Fingers at a Christening, at a good Rate, they
     would set a better Price on their miraculously made Wine, and give
     a notable Reason for its dearness, _viz._ that Miracles should not
     be _cheap_, which would bring them into Contempt, and lessen the
     Wonder and Admiration of them."

So ends the Invective of a suppos'd Jewish _Rabbi_ against this
Miracle; which our _Divines_, as well as myself, are to consider of an
Answer to. Whether they shall think themselves able to answer the
rational Parts of it, consistently with the Letter, I know not; but I
own myself unable, and believe it impossible for them, to do it: And
therefore they must of necessity go along with me to the mystical
Interpretation of the Fathers; or this Miracle will turn to the
dishonour of _Jesus_, and disadvantage of his Religion.

_Justin Martyr_[243] says, it is absurd to take the Stories of the
Marriages and Concubinages of the _Patriarchs_ of the Old Testament in
a literal Sense. And indeed, literally consider'd, they are some of
them too luscious Tales to be related by divine and inspired Penmen:
whereupon he, as well as St. _Paul_ and _Philo-Judæus_[244], turn
these Stories for the Honour of God and Edification of his Church,
into an Allegory. Consequently, if _Justin_ had had an occasion to
speak of this Marriage before us, there's no doubt on't, but he would
have made Mystery of all and every Part of it.

To the same purpose _Origen_[245] says, "That since the Law is a shadow
of good Things to come, and writes sometimes of Marriages and of
Husbands and Wives; we are not to understand it of Marriages according
to the Flesh, but of the spiritual Marriage between Christ and his
Church. As for Instance, _Abraham_ had two Sons, _&c._ here we ought not
to confine our Thoughts to carnal Marriages, and their Offsprings; but
to extend them to the Mysteries here signified. And there are almost a
thousand other places in Scripture about Marriages; but in every place
(_unusquisque Locus castum & divinum de Nuptiis continet Intellectum
secundum Expositionem moralem_) is to have a divine, moral, and mystical
Construction put on't. Whoever therefore reads the Scriptures about
Marriages, and understands no more by them, than carnal Marriages; he
errs, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the Power of God." From hence may
be easily concluded, what was _Origen_'s opinion about this Marriage in
_Cana_ of _Galilee_, if there were no other Passages in him for a
Confirmation of it. But to come closer to the Purpose.

St. _Augustin_[246] says, there is Mystery signified in the Story of
this Marriage, as in all _Jesus_'s Miracles, which it becomes us to
open and search for; till, if possible, we are _inebriated_ with the
spiritual and invisible Wine, that _Jesus_ made at this Feast. And
again[247] says, Let us then consider the several Particulars of the
Story, and what is meant by the six Waterpots; and the Water that is
turn'd into Wine; and the Governor of the Feast; and who are the
Bridegroom and the Bride; and who is the Mother of _Jesus_ in a
Mystery; and what is to be understood by the Marriage.

And again, says St. _Augustin_[248], there is Mystery in this Marriage,
or _Jesus_ upon no invitation had gone to it. The Bridegroom is our Lord
himself, to whom it is said thou hast reserv'd the good Wine of the
Gospel _until now_, that is, until the typified Time of the Celebration
of this mystical Marriage, which according to St. _Augustin_[249] is to
be on the sixth Age of the World, signified by the six Water-Pots,
holding two or three Firkins apiece, that is, all Mankind, as they are
divided into the _two_ sorts of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_, or into _three_,
as they are descended of the _three_ Sons of _Noah_.

And in another Place, the same St. _Augustin_ interpreting this Story,
says[250] thus; "Our Saviour is invited to a Marriage; what can that
mean but that the Holy Spirit is courted and invocated by the Church,
wishing to be espoused to him? _Jesus_ comes with his Disciples, that
is, into a holy Place of a Company of Saints. _Mary_ the Mother of our
Lord signifies to him, _that they have no Wine_; so the Church makes
known to him, the Deficiency of the Spirit, which she waits for the
Power of. And if _Jesus_ calls _Mary_, a Woman; he means the Church,
who by Transfiguration may be a Virgin, the Mother, the Spouse of
Christ, and a Whore too."

And again St. _Augustin_ explaining[251] what is meant by the Water,
and the Wine that it wou'd be turn'd into, at the Time of the
spiritual Celebration of this Marriage of Christ with his Spouse of
the Church, says plainly enough, that by _Water_ is meant the Letter
of the Scriptures; and by the best _Wine_ is to be understood
spiritual Interpretations, which would transport the understandings of
Men with divine knowledge; and warm their Hearts and Affections into a
spiritual _Inebriation_; after the similitude of Wine natural.

St. _Theophilus_ of _Antioch_, a most antient Greek Commentator (who
according to _Bishop Smalbroke_ should strictly adhere to the Letter)
says[252], that by this Marriage is meant the Conjunction of Christ
and his Church, as it is the Tradition of the Old and New Testament.
And that _Jesus_ himself is the Bridegroom; and _Moses_ the Governor
of the Feast.

Other Fathers, such as St. _Cyril_, St. _Theophylact_ and St. _Jerome_
are of the same mind about the mystical Interpretation of this
Marriage, as might be prov'd by Passages out of them, if I had room
here to cite them. But I must observe here, that according to the
Fathers, the Story of this Marriage is but another Emblem of the
Marriage of the Lamb with the Bride of the _New Jerusalem_, spoken of
in the _Revelations_, to which all the Fowls of the Air will be
invited, that is, spiritual and heavenly minded Christians, who[253]
soar and fly aloft in their divine and sublime Contemplations on the
anagogical Sense of the Scriptures, which will exhibit those
intellectual Dainties, they are there to be entertain'd with.

What I have here said out of the Fathers to the Story of this
Marriage, is enough to quicken our _Divines_ to search for the like
mystical Interpretation of the whole. The Part of it that's most
difficult to be spiritually expounded, is that saying of _Jesus_ to
his Mother, _Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine Hour is not yet
come._ For the clear interpretation of which, I own, I meet with
little in the Fathers. But St. _Augustin_[254] assures us, there's
latent Mystery in the words. How then shall we come at it? Why, if we
cast away the _Interrogation_, and look upon the Sentence, as
ellyptical, like an infinite number of prophetical ones, the Sense
paraphrastically, and agreeably to the rest of the Mystery, arises
thus: In answer to the Woman of the Church's Expectation of the Wine
of the Spirit; _Jesus_ will tell her or make her to understand of what
importance it is to her (and himself) to be supply'd with that
mystical Wine to her Edification, which it was not his time to pour
forth upon the Church, till the Celebration of his Nuptials with her.

And thus have I done with the Miracle of _Jesus_'s turning Water into
Wine at a Marriage of _Cana_ of _Galilee_. Whether it be not an absurd
and offensive Story according to the Letter, let any one judge. If
the supposed Jewish _Rabbi_ has forced a worse Sense upon it, than it
will naturally bear, our _Clergy_ may expostulate with him for it,
which they hardly will any otherwise than by Exclamations against him,
without Reason and Authority. But in the mystical Operation of this
Miracle at the Marriage of Christ with his Church, there will be the
Wisdom and Power and Goodness of God visible. And it will be a
demonstration of _Jesus_'s _Messiahship_, in as much as the Water of
the Letter of the Law and the Prophets can't be turn'd into the Wine
of spiritual Interpretations, but we must discern how he is the
Accomplisher and Fulfiller of them. And so I pass to an

11. _Eleventh_ Miracle of Jesus, _viz._[255] That of his healing a
Paralytick, for whom the Roof of the House was broken up to let him
down into the Room where _Jesus_ was.

And this Story (without excepting that of the Pool of _Bethesda_) is
the most monstrously absurd, improbable and incredible of any
according to the Letter. There is not one Miracle of _Jesus_
specifically related, that does not labour under more or less
Absurdities, either in Substance or Circumstance: But this, for number
and greatness of Absurdities, I think surpasses them all: And the
Absurdities of it too are so obvious and stare a Man in the Face, that
I wonder they are hitherto overlook'd; and that considerate and
intelligent Persons have not before now hesitated and boggled at them.
If Interest had not blinded the Eyes of our learned _Clergy_, they
would easily have descry'd the Incredibilities and Absurdities of this
Story; and in another _Impostor_'s Case presently have pointed them
out to the ridicule of his Admirers and Adorers.

If a Man was to torture his Brains for the Invention of a romantick
Tale of improbable and surprizing Circumstances, that he might,
withal, hope to palm for a Truth, if it was but for a Week or a Day,
upon the Faith and Understanding of the Credulous; he could never have
presumed, I think, so far upon the weakness of their Intellects, as to
imagine any thing so grossly and notoriously contradictory to Sense
and Reason, would have gone down with them, as is _this_ before us,
which has pass'd currently thro' many Ages of the Church, has been
read with attention by the Learned, and revered by the rest of
Christians, without any exception, hesitation, or doubt of the Truth
of it. In short, so palpable is the falsity of the Story of this
Miracle, that it requires no Sagacity to detect it; and was it not for
the sake of the Mystery more than to expose the Folly of the _Clergy_
in believing of it, I had never bestow'd the following Pains on it.

The People, it seems, so press'd and throng'd about the Door of the
House, where _Jesus_ was, that the Paralytick and his Bearers could
not get near it. What did they so throng and press for? Was it to see
_Jesus_, who was _without Form and Comeliness_, according to the
Prophet _Isaiah_; or, who was one of the most graceful of the Sons of
Men, as _Painters_ and _Publius Lentulus_ do describe him? This could
not be the Reason of the Croud. Tho' a Person extraordinary, either
for Beauty or Deformity may attract the Eyes of the People, and
occasion too a Throng about him; yet this could be no Reason for a
_Press_ about _Jesus_, at _Capernaum_, where he dwelt, and was
commonly seen and well known.

Was it then to hear him preach? Nor this neither. Tho' an excellent
Preacher does sometimes, and a very indifferent one does oftener draw
multitudes after him; yet _Jesus_, as a Prophet, was without Honour
at _Capernaum_, his own Country; consequently, it is not to be
supposed that, for his Doctrine, he was so much follow'd here, tho' we
read, that he _preach'd the Word unto them_.

Was it then to behold him working of Miracles and curing of the
diseased? This is the likeliest Reason of the Crouds and Throng about
him. And perhaps it was a Day appointed beforehand for his healing of
the diseased, which might occasion a more than ordinary Concourse of the
People. But then this Reason would have induced the People to make way
for the _Lame_, _Blind_, and _Paralyticks_ to come to _Jesus_; for they
frustrated their own Hopes and Expectations of seeing Miracles wrought;
and acted more unreasonably than ever Mob did, or can be supposed to do.

But whatever was the Reason of this tumultuous Crouding, which is hard
to be accounted for; it's said, the poor _Paralytick_ with his Bearers
could not get to the Door of the House for the _Press_, and therefore
in all haste is he haul'd to the Top of the House, and let down, thro'
a breach of the Roof, into the Room where _Jesus_ was. What need was
there of such Haste and Pains to get to _Jesus_ for a Cure? It was but
waiting a while, not many Hours, and in all probability the Tumult
would be appeas'd, and access easily had to him. But that the Bearers
of the poor Man should enterprise a trouble and difficulty, that could
not require less Time, than the Tumult could be supposed to last, is a
little strange and somewhat incredible.

St. _Chrysostom_ says[256], that the _Paralytick_ saw that the
Market-place or Street was throng'd with People, who had obstructed
all Passage to the House, where _Jesus_ was; and yet he did not so
much as say to his Friends and Bearers, "What's the Reason of this
Tumult? Let's stay till it is appeas'd, and the House clear'd of the
People, who ere long will depart; and then we shall privately and
quietly get admittance to Jesus," But why did he not say so? Any one
beside himself and his Bearers, if they had any Reason and Senses
about them, would have so argued. St. _Chrysostom_ says, it was their
_Faith_ that made them in such haste to get to _Jesus_: But I should
have thought their _Faith_ might have work'd _Patience_, and disposed
them to stay till Jesus could come out to them, or they get in to him:
And it is an Addition to the strangeness and incredibility of this
Story, that it did not.

But supposing this _Paralytick_ in such haste and danger of Life, that
he could not wait the dispersion of the Tumult, but, for want of a free
entrance at the Door, is, cost what it will, to be rais'd to the top of
the House, and a breach must be there made for him. The Question is,
whether such an Enterprize was or could be feisable and practicable? I
have no Conception of the possibility of it. If they could not get to
the Door of the House for the Press; of consequence they could not come
at the Sides of it. How should they? over the Heads of the People?
That's not to be imagined; consequently here's another difficulty in the
Story, that renders it yet more strange and incredible.

But, without questioning the possibility and easiness of getting the
_Paralytick_ and his Couch over the Heads of the Mob, to the sides of
the House; thither he is brought, where we now behold him and his
Bearers with their Pullies, Ropes, and Ladders (that were not at hand,
nor could suddenly be procured) hauling and heaving him to the top of
the House. Of what height the House was, is not of much Consequence.
Some for the Credit of the Story may say[257], it was a _very low
one_; tho' antient and modern _Commentators_ are pretty well agreed,
that it was an _upper-Room_, where _Jesus_ was; consequently the House
was at least two Stories high: But if it was much higher, I'll allow
that Art and Pullies (which they wanted for the present) would raise
the Man and his Bed to the top of it: So we will not dispute nor
differ upon that matter. On the top of the House then, we are now to
behold the _Paralytick_ and his Bearers with their Hatchets and
Hammers, _&c._ (which they forgot to bring with them, for they could
not think of any use they should have of them) uncovering the Roof of
the House; breaking up _Tiles_, _Spars_, and _Rafters_, and making a
Hole, capacious enough for the Man and his Bed to be let thro'. An
odd, strange, and unaccountable Work _this_, which, if they had not
been cunning Fellows, would hardly have enter'd into their Heads to
project. But at work they are, when it was well, if Jesus and his
Disciples escaped with only a broken Pate, by the falling of Tiles,
_&c._, and if the rest were not almost smother'd with the Dust; for it
was over their Heads that the breach was made. Where was the good Man
of the House all this while? Would he suffer his House to be thus
broken up, and not command them to desist from their foolish and
needless Attempt, till the Mob was quell'd, and there was a free
entrance at the Door of his House, which could not be long first? Is
there nothing in all this, of difficulty and obstruction in the way of
the belief of this Story?

Some modern _Commentators_, being aware of these difficulties in this
Story, and willing to reconcile Men to the earlier belief of it, say,
as _Drusius_[258] did, that the Houses of _Judæa_ were _flat-roof'd,
and not ridg'd_: And Doctors, _Lightfoot_ and _Whitby_[259] say, there
was a Door on their flat Roofs, by which the _Jews_ used to ascend to
the top of their Houses, where they discours'd on the Law and
religious Matters; and that it was thro' such a Door, by a little
widening of the sides of it, that the _Paralytick_ was let down in the
presence of _Jesus_. To which Opinion I would yield, if it was not
liable to these Objections, _viz._ that it is not reconcilable to what
St. _Luke_ says, of _their letting the Paralytick down thro' the
Tiling with his Couch, in the midst, where Jesus was_; nor hardly
consistent with what St. _Mark_ says of their _uncovering_ and
_breaking up the Roof of the House_: which Expressions the
_Evangelists_ had never used, if there had been a Door for him to
descend by. But to indulge _Lightfoot_ and _Whitby_ in their Notion; I
may ask them, what occasion was there then of widening the doorway,
and breaking down the sides of it? They'll say, because the Passage
otherwise was too narrow, for the Man's Couch to get thro'. Why then
did not they take him out of his Couch, and let him down in a Blanket,
a Chair, or a Basket? Or rather, why did not _Jesus_, to prevent this
Trouble and Damage to the House, ascend thro' this Door, to the Top of
it, and their speak the healing Word to this poor Man? To say, that
_Jesus_ could not or would not go up to the Paralytick, I would not,
for Fear of an Imputation of Blasphemy against me. Our _Divines_
therefore are to look for, what they'll hardly find, an Answer to the
said Question, which will consist with the Wisdom, the Goodness and
Honour of _Jesus_; or here will be another and insuperable Bar to the
Credibility of this Story.

In short, there are more and greater Difficultys affecting the Credit
of this Miracle, on the side of _Jesus_, than any before urg'd. Could
not he, as it was antiently[260] objected, have made the Access to
himself more easy? Could not he, to prevent all this Trouble and Pains
of getting to the Top of the House, and of breaking up the Roof of it,
have desired or even forc'd the People to make way for this poor Man
and his Bearers? This was not impossible for him to do. If it was hard
for another; it was not for him, who was omnipotent. He that could
drive his Thousands before him out of the Temple; and draw as many
after him into the wilderness, might surely, by Force or Persuasion
have made the People, how unreasonably mobbish soever, to retreat. And
why did he not? Without a good and satisfactory Answer, which I can't
conceive, to this Question, here is the most unaccountable and
incredible part of the whole Story, that reflects on the Wisdom, the
Power and Goodness of _Jesus_. If there had been no other absurd
Circumstances of it, this is enough to spoil its Credit, so far as
that I believe it impossible for _Ministers_ of the _Letter_, with all
their Wit, Penetration and Sagacity to get over it.

Believe then the Story of this Miracle, thus taken to Pieces, who can?
It is such an Accumulation of Absurdities, Improbabilities, and
Incredibilities, that a Man of the most easy Faith, if he at all
think, can't digest. It's not credible, I said, to suppose, the People
of _Capernaum_, where _Jesus_ dwelt, and was well known and little
admired, would at all _press_ to see or hear him: And if the occasion
of their Concourse was to behold his Miracles; it is less-reasonable
to think they would tumultuate to their own disappointment; but rather
make way for the diseased, for the satisfaction of their own
Curiosity, to come to him: And if they did mob it to their own
disappointment, about the Door of the House; it was next to
impossible for the poor Man and his Couch to be heav'd over their
Heads, and rais'd to the top of it: More unreasonable yet to think,
the master of the House would suffer the Roof of it to be so broken
up: But most of all against Reason to suppose, _Jesus_ would not give
forth the healing word, and prevent all this Labour, or by his divine
Power disperse the People, that the _Paralytick_ might have present
and easy access to him.

Whether all this be not absolutely shocking of the Credit of this Story,
let my Readers judge. In my Opinion, no Tale more monstrously romantick
can be told. I don't here question _Jesus_'s Power to heal this
Paralytick, nor the miraculousness of the Cure of him: The trouble of
that Question is saved me, by the many other incredible Circumstances of
the Story, which are such a Contradiction to Sense and Reason, as is not
to be equall'd, in any thing, that's commonly receiv'd and believ'd by
Mankind. _Cicero_ says, that there is nothing so absurd, which some of
the Philosophers have not held. And they might and did, some of them,
hold gross Absurdities. But the Letter of the Story of this Miracle
before us, which is the Object of the Faith of our learned Priesthood
at this Day is a Match for the worst of them.

But as absurd, as this Story is, I expect that our _Clergy_ will be
disgusted at my ludicrous display of it; and that Arch Deacon _Stubbs_
in particular will again be ready to exclaim against me, and say, that
this is turning a _miraculous Fact_ and a _divine Testimony_ of our
Religion into Ridicule. Whereupon it is to be wish'd, _that
Arch-Deacon_ would write, what would be a Pleasure to see, a
Vindication of this Story. If he can account for the possibility and
credibility of the Letter of it, he shall have my leave to make
another dull Speech in _Convocation_ against me. And it is not
unlikely, but he may say as much for it, as another Man: For as the
Story is senseless, so it is the better suited to his Head and Brains.
But if he don't, I much question, whether any other Clergyman of more
Wit will, appear in Defence of it.

So absurd is the Letter of this Story, that for the Honour of _Jesus_,
and Credibility of his Gospel, it is absolutely necessary to turn it
into Allegory. To the Fathers then, let us go for their help in this
Case. If they did not read me a better Lecture upon this Miracle, than
do our modern _Commentators_, I should be almost tempted to renounce my
Religion upon it: But as they have rationally and rightly instructed me
in its true meaning, so I retain my Christian Faith, and admire the
Sublimity of the Mystery, which I am now to give an account of.

By this _Paralitick_, St. _Hilary_[261] says, is to be understood
_Mankind_ of all Nations, which opinion too the Fathers held of the
_Paralitick_, who was heal'd at the Pool of _Bethesda_. And by his
Palsy is not meant any bodily Distemper, but the spiritual Palsy of
the Soul, that is, as St. _Augustin_[262] and St. _Jerome_[263]
interpret, a dissoluteness of Morals, and an unsteadiness of Faith and
Principles, which is the Condition of Mankind at present, who want
_Jesus_'s help for the Cure of it. _Eusebius Gallicanus_[264] says,
our Saviour's words signify, that it is not a bodily but a spiritual
Disease here meant; or he had never said to the Paralytick, _Son, thy
Sins are forgiven thee_, which words respect the inward Man, and
demonstrate the Palsy here to be a disease Of the Soul.

The Man sick of the Palsy had _four Bearers_. And who are they
mystically in this Case? Why, the Fathers[265] understand by them the
_four Evangelists_, on whose Faith and Doctrine Mankind is to be
carry'd unto Christ; for no Soul can be brought unto him, for the
Sanation of his Sins and Errors, but by these _four_.

But to the top of the House is Mankind, thus paralytically diseased,
to be carry'd by the four Evangelists, his Bearers. And what then is
this House and its Top? The House of _Jesus_ is the intellectual
Edifice of the World, otherwise call'd Wisdom's House; of the
beautiful Buildings of which the Scriptures prophetically treat:
therefore to the _sublime Sense_ of the Scriptures, call'd the
Top[266] of the House, is Man to be taken: He is not to abide in the
_low and literal Sense_[267] of them, where People _press_ and strive
in vain to come to _Jesus_: But if he is taken to the Sublimity of the
Scriptures and there _open_[268] _the House_ of Wisdom, he will
presently be admitted to the Presence and Knowledge of _Jesus_.

Venerable _Bede_, who is altogether a Transcriber of the Fathers, for
which Reason I cite him among the Fathers, says[269], that by the
_Tiles_ of the House spoken of in St. _Luke_, is meant the _Letter_ of
the Scriptures, which is to be laid open for the manifestation of Christ
and of divine Mysteries to the healing of Man's spiritual Palsy, the
unsteadiness and dissoluteness of his Morals and Principles.

So much, in short, then to the mystical Interpretation of the Story of
this Miracle. The literal Sense of it is so encumber'd with romantick
Circumstances, as are enough to turn a Man's Heart against
Christianity it self: But in the Mystery there will be a most
stupendous Miracle, which will be not only an Argument of _Jesus_'s
divine Power, but of his _Messiahship_, as certainly as his House of
Wisdom, of which the Scriptures write, is open'd to the Manifestation
of his Presence, and to the Cure of Mankind of his paralytical
Disease, call'd an instability of Faith and Principles.

And thus have I, in this _Discourse_, taken into Examination three more
of _Jesus_'s Miracles; which I submit to the Judgment of my Readers,
whether the literal Story of them does not consist of Absurdities,
Improbabilities and Incredibilities according to the Proposition before
us; and whether there is not a necessity, for the Honour of _Jesus_, to
turn them into prophetical and parabolical Narratives of what will be
mysteriously and more wonderfully done by him.

My next _Discourse_, if my mind hold, shall treat on the three Stories
of _Jesus_'s raising of the dead, _viz._ of the Widow of _Naim_'s Son,
of _Jairus_'s Daughter, and of _Lazarus_; after which I will give the
literal History of Christ's Resurrection, that sandy Foundation of the
Church, a Review; and so conclude my Discourses on the Miracles of our

To run thro' all the Miracles of _Jesus_, and handle them in the manner
I have done the foregoing, would be a long and tedious Work. But if our
_Divines_ shall think, I have selected only those Miracles, which are
obnoxious to Cavil and Ridicule; and have omitted others, that literally
are a more unexceptionable Testimony of _Jesus_'s divine Power, and
Authority; I will, for their Satisfaction take more of them to Task, and
give the Letter of their Stories, the like ludicrous treatment. If I
mistake not, the Miracles already spoken to, together with those of
_Jesus_'s raising of the dead, and of his own Resurrection, are the most
famous and remarkable of any others: And according to the Observation I
have made on the rest, they are no less but rather more liable to
Ridicule and Exception. But if any are of a contrary Opinion, and will
let me know, which in their Judgment are more unexceptionable Miracles,
I will vouchsafe them an Examination. I am sure there is not one
Miracle, which the Fathers of the Church did not turn into Allegory; and
if we don't at this Day make mystical Operations of them, they will none
of them according to the Letter, stand their Ground, nor abide the Test
of a critical Inquiry into them.

I don't expect, that this _Discourse_ will be any more pleasing and
acceptable to the _Clergy_, who are _Ministers_ of the _Letter_ of
_Jesus_'s Miracles, as well as of the Prophecies of him, than any of my
former: But their Displeasure in the Case will give me no Disturbance,
nor am I concern'd about any Resentment, they can make of it. If they
are offended at these _Discourses_, they should as they came forth, have
written solid Confutations of them, and so have prevented my Publication
of any more of this kind: But instead of serious and potent Reasonings
against me, I have met with little else but oral Railings, Exclamations,
Defamations, and attempts for Prosecution; which have been so far from
terrifying me, that they give me a secret Pleasure, and animate me to
proceed in the Undertaking in hand.

I did not much question but the _Bishop_ of St. _Davids_, whom I look'd
upon as a Person of Ingenuity and Learning, would, before this Time,
have publish'd somewhat in Confutation of one or other of my former
_Discourses_. Whether he was not obliged to it, or to make me some
publick Reparation of the Injury done to my Reputation, by his
slanderous Sermon, I appeal now to the worshipful _Societys_ for
Reformation of Manners; to whom, and to other Civil Magistrates, I hope
his Sermon, without Reason, will be a Caution, that no Pulpit-Invective
move them to prosecute or think the worse of any Author.

Liberty of thinking, writing and judging for our selves in Religion is
a natural, a Christian, and a protestant _Right_: It is a _Right_ that
the Magistrates as well as the Subjects are interested in, and are to
see to the Conservation of, or their Understandings as well as their
Purses will be ridden and oppress'd by an ignorant and tyrannical
Priesthood. I urge not this for my own security against Prosecution
for Infidelity and Blasphemy, declaring that if the _Bishops_ of
_London_, St. _Davids_, or _Arch-Deacon Stubbs_, who are zealous for
Persecution, will but engage me on the Stage of Controversy, and make
good their Accusations against me, I will submit to the worst
Punishment, that can be inflicted on the worst Offender.

In the mean time I will go on with my Undertaking, to the advancement
of Truth, and demonstration of the _Messiahship_ of the Holy _Jesus_,
to whom be Glory for ever, _Amen_.



[205] John. ix.

[206] Quid Lutum i linere opporet? hoc potius eæcum reddere, quis
unquam hoc pacto curatus est? _In Loc. Johan._

[207] Quam ob causam dicet aliquis, cum omnia solo Verbo præstare
possit, nulloque negotio, Lutum quidem sputo macerat? _In Loc. Johan._

[208] Sed Rationem quandam mysticam habet Vis Rei istius de sputo.

[209] Ei autem qui cæcus fuerat a Nativitate, jam non per sermonem sed
per operationem præstitit visum; non vane, neque prout evenit, hoc
faciens, sed ut ostenderet manum Dei, eam quæ ab initio plasmavit
Hominem, _&c._ Contra Hæres. L. v. c. 15.

[210] _See his Sermons before the Societys for Reformation._ p. 12.

[211] Ipse Salvator noster apertissime ostendit, quod ejus Miracula
Aliquid significent, dum ea faciendo, aliquid agit, quod Ratione
carere videatur. Nisi enim aliquid significaret, quid necessarium
fuit, in hujus cæci Illuminatione, ut Lutum faceret, quo oculos ejus
liniret, cui solum dicere sufficiens erat. Quæramus igitur
significationem, & videamus quid cæcus iste significet. _In Homil.
quarta post quartam Dominicam._

[212] Similitudo erat & Typus futurorum unumquodque quod fiebat in
Corpore. Veluti nescio quis à Nativitate cæcus Visum recuperavit. Vere
autem cæcus iste erat à Nativitate Gentilium Populus, cui Salvator
reddidit Visum, Saliva sua ungens oculos ejus & mittens ad _Siloam_,
quod interpretatur missus, mittebat quippe illos quos spiritu unxit ad
Apostolos. _In Isai._ c. vi.

[213] Genus humanum est iste cæcus. _In Loc. Johan._

[214] Cæcus humanum Genus significatur. _In Com. Johan._

[215] Cæcus iste a Nativitate, Genus humanum esse videtur à primo
homine.----Hæc enim cæcitas non Corporis sed Animæ est. _In Loc. supra

[216] Per cæcum naturaliter non videntem & illuminatum significat
Genus humanum. _In Loc. Johan._

[217] Vere autem cæcus iste erat a Nativitate Gentilium Populus. _In
Isai._ c. vi.

[218] Cæci hujus Curationem in figuram & typus vocationis Gentium
accepimus. _In Loc. Johan._

[219] Intellige hoc Miraculum spiritualiter. Nam cæcus quidem erat
omnis homo à Nativitate, id est, ab Initio Mundi. _In Loc. Johan._

[220] In Sabbato est figura ultimi Temporis. _St. Cyril in Loc. Johan._

[221] Cæcitas est Infidelitas. _In Loc._

[222] Cæcus qui destituitur divino Lumine. _De Adorat._ p. 414.

[223] Cæcus qui sedet in tenebris omnis Ignorantiæ, & non potuit
videre Conditorem Mundi. _In Loc. Johan._

[224] Literam Legis sequentes, in Errores, Superstitiones &
Infidelitatem incurrunt. _In Matt. Tract._ xxvi.

[225] Cæcus iste est cæcus in Litera, & hoc statu Sanari non potest.
_In Marc._ c. viii.

[226] Cæci qui imperiti Scripturarum. _In Loc. Johan._

[227] Lutum vero factum de Saliva oris Domini, ac positum super oculos
cæci, significat hic, quod naturæ deerat, opere suo implere Figulum.
_In Loc. Johan._

[228] Saliva sua ungens Oculos cæci & mittens ad _Siloam_ quod
interpretatur _Missus_, mittebat quippe illos, quos spiritu unxit. &c.
_In Isa. c._ vi.

[229] Saliva est perfecta Doctrina. _In Marc._ c. viii.

[230] Ei autem qui cæcus fuerat à Nativitate, jam non per sermonem sed
per operationem præstitit Visum; non vane neque prout evenit hoc
faciens, sed ut ostenderet manum Dei, eam quæ ab Initio plasmavit
hominem. Quapropter expuit in Terram, & fecit Lutum, & superlinivit
illud Oculis, ostendens antiquam Plasmationem, quemadmodum facta est,
& manum Dei manifestans his qui intelligere possunt, per quam è Limo
plasmatus est homo. _Cont. Hæreses. L._ v. _c._ 15.

[231] John ii.

[232] _See his Speech in Convocation, printed in the_ Post-Boy _of_
March _the 30th_.

[233] Rursus hoc in loco calumniantur nonnulli hunc ebriosorum fuisse
Conventum, _&c._ _In Loc. Johan._


      Pueri aut Saltatores volutabantur, in his autem
      Tibiæ, Lyræque Vocem habebant. Mulieres autem
      Cantum accipientes, volvebantur per medias
      Quæcunque optimatum erant uxores atque filiæ.
      Illi vero ad Saltationem & desiderabilem Cantum
      Conversi delectabantur, &c.
                                         In _Homero-Centon._

[235] _Vindication of the Christian Religion._ p. 82.

[236] Luke ii. 48.

[237] Christus asperius respondit, quid tibi & mihi, Mulier? _St.
Chrysost. in Loc. Johan._ Vide & _Theopolact. in Loc._

[238] Vide Sanctum Augustinum. _In Loc. Johan._

[239] Apud St. Chrysostomum _In Loc. Johan._

[240] _Vindication of the Christian Religion_, p. 82.

[241] Sed quanam gratia, antequam implerentur, non fecit Miraculum,
quod longe fuisset admirabilius? Siquidem aliud est subjectæ Materiæ
qualitatem mutare, aliud ipsam substantiam ex nihilo facere. _Chrysos.
in Loc._

[242] Sæpe obest Magnitudo, ne Miracula creditu sint facilia.
_Theophylact. in Loc._

[243] In Dialog. cum Tryphone, _p._ 364.

[244] In Lib. de Abrahamo.

[245] _In Matt. Tract._ xxii.

[246] Aliquid enim & in ipsis factis innuit nobis, puto, quia non sine
causa venit ad Nuptias. Excepto Miraculo, aliquid in ipso facto
Mysterii & Sacramenti latet. Pulsemus ut aperiet & de Vino invisibili
inebriet nos. _In Loc. Johan._

[247] Nihil dicemus, quid sibi velint Hydriæ, quid Aqua in Vinum
conversa, quid Architriclinius, quid Sponsus, quid Mater Jesu in
Mysterio, quid ipsæ Nuptiæ? _Ibid._

[248] Per hoc invitatus Dominus venit ad Nuptias, ut ostenderetur
Sacramentam Nuptiarum,----Illarum Nuptiarum Sponsus Personam Domini
figurabat, cui dictum est, servasti bonum Vinum usque adhuc, Bonum
Vinum id est Evangelium servasti usque adhuc. _Ibid._

[249] Sex Hydriæ sunt sex Ætates Temporum capientes Prophetiam
pertinentem ad omnes gentes sive in duobus generibus hominum, id est,
Judæis & Græcis, sive in tribus propter Noe tres Filios. _Ibid._

[250] Vocatur Salvator ad Nuptias, hoc est, Ecclesiæ voto spiritus
sanctus invocatur----Venit cum Discipulis suis, id est, in Loco sancto,
Turba sanctorum. Mirabilia Dei Maria Mater expectat, hoc est, Virtutem
Christi expectat Ecclesia.----Maria ait, ecce Vina deficiant, hoc est,
Vinum Spiritus Ecclesia optat excipere.----Numquid Mulierem dicit Jesu
Mariam, quæ Virgo post Pactum inventa est? Sed Ecclesiam alloquitur, quæ
non solum Mulier, sed meretrix nuncupatur. _In Sermon_ xcii. _Append._

[251] Vinum multis Locis accipimus Scripturas Sanctas meracissimum
Vigorem cœlestis sapientæ continentes; quibus incalescant sensus &
inebrientur Affectus. Operante Christo in Cana Galileæ Vinum defecit &
Vinum sit, id est, Umbra removetur & Veritas præsentatur. Recedit Lex,
Gratia succedit. Carnalia spiritualibus commutantur. Bonum quidem
Vinum est vetus Testamentum, sed sine spirituali Intellectu vanescit
in Litera. _In Sermon_ xc. _Append._ Sed illud quod in Litera Legis
aquam sapiebat, dum spiritualiter intellgi fecit, aquam in Vinum
convertit. _In Sermon_ xci. _Append._

[252] Per Nuptias, Conjunctionem Christi Ecclesiæ, hoc est Veteris &
Novi Testamenti Traditionem debemus accipere. Sponsus est Christus.
Architriclinius est Moses. _In Loc. Johan._

[253] Voluores Cœli sunt verè puri & ad cælestis sapientiæ Cognitionem
evolare parati. _Clem. Alex. Strom. L._ iv.

[254] Quid mihi & tibi est, Mulier? Procul dubio, Fratres, latet ibi
aliquid Mysterii. _In Loc. Johan._

[255] Matt. ix. Mark ii. Luke v.

[256] Paralyticus reppletum videret Theatrum, Aditus Interclusos,
Portum obseptum,----Non tamen dixit Propinquis suis, quid hoc Rei est?
Expectemus quousque Domus evacuetur, Theatrum dimittatur, recedent,
qui congregati sunt, poterimus privatim ad ilium accedere. _In Homil.
de hoc Paralyt._

[257] Dicet aliquis valde dimissum fuisse Locum, à quo per Tegulas
deposuerunt Paralytici Lectum. _Johan. Nepot. Hieros. in Loc. Luc._

[258] Judæorum Tecta plana erant, & non in Coniformam lastigiata. _In
Loc. Luc._

[259] _In Loc. Marci._

[260] Numquid enim facilem illi potuit Accessum redere? _Apud
Chrysostom. de hoc Paralyt._

[261] In Paralytico Gentium universitas offertur me denda. _In Loc.

[262] Paralyticus potest intelligi Anima dissoluta Membris, id est,
bonis operibus. _Inter. Quæst. Evang._

[263] Paralysis Typus est Torporis, quo piger jacet in Malitia Carnis,
habens desiderium Salutis, & Torporis Ignavia & duplis Cogitationibus,
ac si enervatus Membris ostendit. _In Loc. Marci._

[264] In hoc enim quod ait, remittuntur tibi Peccata, interiorem
hominem, id est, spiritum paryliticum esse demonstrat. Hoc enim non
dixisset, si ad Corporis Infirmitatem respexisset. Non ideo Corpus
sanatur, quia Anima a peccatis liberatur. _In Homil. in Dominic._ xix.
_post Pentecost_.

[265] Sed qui sunt isti quatuor, qui hunc Paralyticum portant & Domino
offerunt. Per hos enim nescio, qui melius quam quatuor Evangelistæ
intelligi possunt. Nulla enim Anima nisi per istos Domino offertur,
nulla Anima nisi per istorum fidem sanatur. _Euseb. Gallican. ibid._ Sum
Paraliticus, quia non operantur & immobiles sunt Vires Animæ meæ ad
bonum, sed si a quatuor Evangelistis gestatus & adductus fuero ad
Dominum, tunc audiam, remittuntur Peccata. _Theophylact. in Loc. Marci._

[266] Tectum Domus qua Christus docet, ascendendum, id est, Sacræ
Scripturæ Sublimitas est appetenda. _Bedæ in Loc. Lucæ._

[267] Non utique in Infirmis exterius, qua turbæ tumultuantur
remanendum, sed Tectum Domus, &c. _Ibid._

[268] Patefacto Tecto ægerad Jesum summittitur, quia reseratis
Scripturarum Mysteriis, ad Notitiam Christi pervenitur. _Bedæ in. Loc.
Marci._ Est Paralysis interior, ut pervenias ad Christum (forte enim
latet Medicus & intus est, hoc est, iste verus Intellectus in
Scriptoris occultus est) exponendo quod occultum est aperi Tectum, &
depone Paraliticum. _Augustin. In Serm._ XLVI. _Sect._ 13. Impediri
turbis nisi Tecta id est operta Scripturarum aperiat, ut per hæc ad
Notitiam Christi perveniat. _Ejusdam in Quæst. 4ta in Evangel. Lucæ._

[269] Et bene Domus Jesu juxta alterius Evangelistæ Narrationem tegulis
esse contecta reperitur, quia sub contemptibili Literarum Velamine, si
adsit, qui reseret, divina spiritualis Gratiæ Virtus invenietur.
Denudatio etenim Tegularum in Domo Jesu, Apertio est, in utilitate
Literæ, sensus spiritualis ac arcanorum cœlestium. _In Loc. Marci._

                                A FIFTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

                         In VIEW of the Present
                           Controversy between INFIDELS
                           and APOSTATES.

                          ----_Ridiculum acri
              Fortius & melius magnas plerumq; secat Res._

                          The Second Edition.

                    By THO. WOOLSTON, B.D. sometime
               Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.


                Printed for the Author, and Sold by him
                  next door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_,
                  and by the Booksellers of _London_, and
                  _Westminster_, 1728.

                         [Price One Shilling.]


                                 TO THE
                      Right Reverend Father in God
                        Lord BISHOP of _Bangor_.


Whatever we poor _Authors_ may sometimes pretend to, by the Dedication
of our Works to _Great_ Men; it's certain we aim at nothing less than
Rewards and Preferments, whether we deserve them or not: That this is
my Design in _Dedications_, is so apparent, that it's to no Purpose to
deny or dissemble it.

Wherefore else have I made Choice of some of our Learned and Wealthy
_Bishops_ for the Patrons of these _Discourses_, which I foresaw
would be grateful to their nice and critical Palates? Wherefore else
have I been so profuse of such Compliments on their _Lordships_, as I
was sure, they would take great Pleasure in? Wherefore else, _My
Lord_, do I inscribe _this_ to your _Right Reverend_ Name, but that I
expect your Approbation of it, and hope for a Recompence, equal to the
Honour, that is here done you.

Some, who are envious, _My Lord_, of my good Fortune in _Episcopal_
Patrons, will not believe that I have receiv'd so much as one _Purse_ of
_Gold_ for any of my _Dedications_; but I would have such Malignants to
know, that the less I have receiv'd, the more there is behind: And I can
moreover assure them, that their _Lordships_ have it in their Heads and
their Hearts too, highly to advance me in the World; and if their
Endeavours for my Promotion fail not, I shall be a very _Great_ Man.

Such primitive Doctrine, _My Lord_, as I have reviv'd, must, in the
Judgment of our _Bishops_, be deserving of their distinguish'd
Favours: And if they should Design for me such a _mystical_ Crown of
Glory, as the _Gentile Priests_ help'd some of the Fathers of the
Church to; I profess without Dissimulation, that, for all my Love to
_Mysteries_, it will be more than I am ambitious of: But if the Honour
is forc'd on me, it will be my Duty to their _Lordships_, to sound an
_allegorical_ Trumpet of their Fame, that their Names, which, might
otherwise be soon forgotten, may be everlastingly remember'd for their
Love and Good-will towards me.

But the chief Foundation, _My Lord_, of my Merits lies, they say, in my
Treatment of the Miracles of our Saviour, after the Manner you handled a
Scripture-Prophecy, of a _Man's kicking a Serpent on the Pate, for
biting him by the Heels_: And if your _Lordship_ got a
_Welsh-Bishoprick_ upon it, what may not I expect for my more
meritorious Works of the same kind? The Great _Mr. Scheme_ has
celebrated your Praise for that Effort of your Wit: And I must needs
say, to your _Lordship_'s Applause, that were not your Thoughts
unhappily shackled with Interest and Subscriptions, (an Unhappiness you
sadly lament!) you would endeavour to make as pleasant Work with the
_Letter_ of the _Old_, as I can do with that of the _New_ Testament.

I have not here Room, _My Lord_, for a sufficient and deserv'd
_Encomium_ on your _Use and Intent of Prophecy_; therefore must be
content to say of it, in short, that it is a most curious Piece of,
what the Fathers call, _Engastromuthism_; or such a singular Specimen
of a Webb, spun out of a Man's own Bowels, as one of fewer Brains in
his Head can hardly equal.

It was wisely done of your _Lordship_ to caution your Readers against
taking your _Book_ for an Answer to Mr. _Grounds_; otherwise it had not
been impossible, but some others as well as the _Worshipful Benchers_ of
the _Temple_ might have mistaken the _Use_ and _Intent_ of it.

After I had gone thro' your _beautifully-printed_ Work, I wish'd, _My
Lord_, for another _Decoration_ of it, that some Annotations out of
the Fathers had been subjoin'd to it. How would your Notions then and
Theirs about Prophecy have stood as a _Foil_ to each other! How should
I then have admired the Difference between a _Rich_ Bishop and a
_Poor_ Father as to Wit and Sense! How should I then have contemplated
the Usefulness of Ecclesiastical Wealth in our _Clergy_ for the
Understanding of the Inspirations of the poor old Prophets!

When your _Lordship_ is call'd upon for another Edition of your _Book_,
vouchsafe me the Favour of making some marginal Remarks on it, which
shall not be without their good Use. As you know, savoury Sawce makes
some sort of Food go down the better; so a little more of that Salt,
which Mr. _Scheme_ has too sparingly sprinkled on your _Work_, will give
your _Readers_, a right Relish of it: But whether I am indulg'd this
Favour or not; I than take another opportunity, according to Promise
elsewhere made, of testifying to the World, how much I am,

[Sidenote: October 25. 1728.]

   _My LORD,
     The Admirer of
       Your_ Use _and_
     Intent _of Prophecy_,
  _Thomas Woolston_.


                                A FIFTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

According to Promise in my last _Discourse_, I am in _this_ to take
into Examination the three Miracles of _Jesus_'s raising the dead,
_viz._ Of _Iairus_'s Daughter[270]; of the Widow of _Naim_'s Son[271];
and of _Lazarus_[272]: The literal Stories of which I shall show to
consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities and Incredibilities, in Order
to the mystical Interpretation of them: And because some of our
_Bishops_ and _Clergy_ were a little disgusted at the ludicrous
Treatment of the _Letter_ of some foregoing Miracles, I will handle
these with the more Caution; being as unwilling, as any Man of my
primitive Faith can be, to offend weak Brethren.

Whether _Jesus_ rais'd any more from the dead, besides the foresaid
three Persons is uncertain from the Evangelical History. St.
_Augustin_[273] thinks, he rais'd many others; and he founds his
Opinion on the modest _Hyperbole_ of St. _John_, who supposes[274]
_the World it self could not contain the Books that might be Written
of Jesus_. And _Eusebius Gallicanus_, of whose Mind entirely I am,
says[275] the Reason lies in the Mystery, why these _three_, and no
more than these _three_ Miracles of this Kind are recorded by the
_Evangelists_. But since our _Divines_ are averse to Mysteries on
Miracles, I would gladly know their Opinion, whether _Jesus_ rais'd
any others from the dead, or not: I have made some search into modern
Writers for their Opinion in this Case, but can't find it: And unless
I knew their Opinion, it would be lost Labour to argue against either
Side of the Question, and much more against both Sides of it: But I
can assure our _Divines_, that, which Side of the Question soever they
should hold, the Consequence upon the Argument would be neither better
nor worse, than that they must of necessity espouse the mystical and
allegorical Interpretation of these Miracles, or grant that _Jesus_
literally rais'd none from the dead at all.

But waving that sort of Argument for the present against the _Letter_;
these three Miracles are reputed the greatest that _Jesus_ wrought:
And I believe, it will be granted on all hands, that the restoring a
Person, indisputably dead, to Life again, is a stupendous Miracle; and
that two or three such Miracles well circumstanced, and credibly
reported, are enough to conciliate the Belief of Mankind, that the
Author of them was a divine Agent, and invested with the Power of God,
or he could not do them. But God knows, (and for the sake of the
Mystery, I am not sorry to say it) this is far from being the Case of
these three Miracles before us, or of any one them.

That these three Miracles are not equally great, but differ in Degree,
is visible enough to any one, that but cursorily reads, and compares
theirs Stories one with another. The Fathers of the Church[276] have
taken Notice of such a Difference amongst them. The greatest of the
three, and indeed, the[277] greatest Miracle, that _Jesus_ is suppos'd
to have wrought, is that of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection; which, in Truth,
was a most prodigious Miracle, if his Corps was putrified and stank;
or if there were no just Exceptions to be made to the Credibility of
the Story. Next to that, in magnitude, is _Jesus_'s raising of the
Widow's Son, as they were carrying him to his Burial: And a great
Miracle it was to bring him to Life again; if none before or since had
been mistaken for dead, and carried to their Graves alive; or if no
Impostor and his Confederates could frame such a seemingly miraculous
Scene, as is that whole Story, to his own Glory. The least of the
three is that of his raising _Jairus_'s Daughter, which in Appearance
is so far from a Miracle, that according to the Story itself, she was
but asleep, or by the Shrieks of By-standers frighted out of her
Senses for the present.

But however it really might be with these three supposed dead and
revived Persons; the Case of none of them was well enough
circumstanced to serve the Purpose of our _Divines_. I am apt to
believe with the Fathers, that _Jesus_ actually did raise the dead;
but then, as these Miracles are only recorded for the sake of the
_Mystery_, I affirm that none of them, as to the _Letter_, will abide
the Test of a critical Examination, nor stand its Ground against such
Exceptions as may be made to them. If _Jesus_ was to raise any dead
Bodies to Life, for a Testimony of his divine Power and Authority, he
would and should have made Choice of other dead Persons, under other
Circumstances of Death; and the History of their Resurrection should
have been more credibly and carefully transmitted to Posterity, so as
there should have been no Room left to make a reasonable Doubt of the
Truth of it. But this, I say, is not the Case in the Resuscitation of
any of these Persons, as will appear from the following Remarks and
Observations upon them. And

1. Observe, that the unnatural and preposterous Order of Time, in
which these Miracles are related, justly brings them all under
suspicion of Fable and Forgery. The greatest of the three is
indisputably that of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection; but since this is only
mention'd by St. _John_, who wrote his Gospel after the other
_Evangelists_, and above sixty Years, according to the best
Computation, after our Lord's Ascension; here is too much Room for
Cavil and Question, whether this Story be not entirely his Invention.
What could be the Reason that _Matthew_, _Mark_, and _Luke_, who all
wrote their Gospel's before _John_, and many Years nearer to the Death
of our Saviour, should omit to record this remarkable and most
illustrious Miracle of _Lazarus_? They could not forget it, nor be
ignorant of it, if the Story had been really true; and to assign any
other Reason than Ignorance or Forgetfulness, is hard and impossible.
To aggrandize the Fame of their Master, for a Worker of Miracles, was
the Design of all the _Evangelists_, especially of the three first,
who may be presumed to make a Report of the greatest, if not of all,
that _Jesus_ wrought: But that there should come after them an
_Evangelist_ with an huge and superlatively great Miracle, and meet
with Credit for it, is against all Sense and Reason; neither is there
any Story, so disorderly told, in all History, that _Critics_ will
admit of the Belief of. The first Writer of the Life of an _Hero_, to
be sure makes mention of all the grand Occurrences of it, and leaves
no Room for _Biographers_ afterwards, but to enlarge and paraphrase
upon what he has written, with some other Circumstances and Additions
of less Moment. If a third or a fourth _Biographer_ after him shall
presume to add a more illustrious Transaction of the _Hero_'s Life, it
will be rejected as Fable and Romance, tho' for no other Reason than
this, that the first Writer must have been appris'd of it, and would
have inserted its Story, if there had been any Truth in it. And
whether St. _John_'s Story of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, that Miracle
of Miracles, ought not to be subjected to the like Criticism upon it,
_Christians_ may consider, and _Infidels_ will judge.

What then was the Reason, I ask again, that the three first
_Evangelists_ neglected to record this renown'd Miracle of _Lazarus_?
And why too (may I enquire here) did not _Matthew_ and _Mark_ mention
the Story of the Widow of _Naim_'s Son, as they could not but know of
it, if true, more certainly than _Luke_, the Companion of _Paul_, who
alone has made a Report of it? _Grotius_ says,[278] _it may seem
strange that this illustrious Miracle of the Widow's Son_ was omitted
by _Matthew_ and _Mark_: And what is the Reason that _Grotius_ gives
for this strange Omission? Why, he tells us[279] _that these two
Evangelists were content with one miraculous Instance of this Kind, by
which Christians might judge of_ Jesus'_s Power in others also_. And
is this Reason sufficient? True it is, they were content with one
Instance; but if they had made a Report of two or three more of the
same sort, no body would have thought their History of _Christ_
overcharg'd with impertinent and tautological Repetitions. But one
Instance of a Person rais'd from the dead, they were, says _Grotius_,
content with: And I'll grant one to be sufficient: But which then
should they, as wise and considerate _Historians_ have made Choice of,
the greatest or the least Miracle? The greatest, to be sure, and that
was of _Lazarus_, or of the Widow's Son, if they knew of either. But
instead of either of these, they tell us the Story of _Jairus_'s
Daughter, that is[280] an imperfect and disputable Miracle, in
Comparison of the other two, which consequently they knew nothing at
all of, or they would have preferr'd the Report of them.

If _Matthew_, the first Writer, had recorded only the Story of
_Lazarus_, whose Resurrection was the greatest Miracle; and if _Luke_
had added _that_ of the Widow of _Naim_'s Son; and _John_ lastly had
remember'd us of _Jairus_'s Daughter, which the other _Evangelists_,
not through Ignorance or Forgetfulness, but studying Brevity, had
omitted, then all had been well; and no Objection had hence lain
against the Credit of any of these Miracles, or against the Authority
of the _Evangelists:_ But this unnatural and preposterous Order of
Time, in which these Miracles are recorded (the greatest being
postponed to the least) administers just Occasion of suspicion of the
Truth and Credibility of all their Stories. And it is lucky for
Christianity, that _Jews_ and _Infidels_ have not hitherto hit upon
the _Absurdity_ of this preposterous Narration, or they might have
form'd a cogent Objection against these Miracles thus, saying;

    "_Jesus_, it is manifest, rais'd not the dead at all. The only
    Person, that Christians can reasonably pretend, he did raise, was
    _Jairus_'s Daughter, whom _Matthew_ writes of; and she, according to
    the Story was only in a Sleep, or an Extacy, when _Jesus_ revived
    her. But the _Galileans_, who were after a Time call'd _Christians_,
    finding their Account in a Resurrection-Miracle; _Luke_, for the
    former Advantage of the Cause, devised another Story of better
    Circumstances, in the Widow of _Naim_'s Son: But this not being so
    great a Miracle, as the Church still wanted; _John_, when no body
    was alive to contradict and expostulate with him for it, trumps up a
    long Story of a thumping Miracle, in _Jesus_'s raising of _Lazarus_,
    who had been not only dead, but buried so long that he stank again.
    But to prove the Story of this Miracle to be false and fabulous, we
    need say no more than that it was last recorded. If there had been
    any Truth in it, the first _Evangelist_ would have remember'd us of

     "We don't suppose, that you Christians, because of your Prejudices,
     will subscribe to this Account, that we thus give of the Rise of
     these Miracles: But this is certain, that if these three Miracles
     had not been reported of _Jesus_, but of _Mahomet_, in the same
     disorder of Time, by three different Historians, you would
     presently have scented the Forgery and Imposture: You would justly
     have affirm'd that the three Stories were apparently three Fables
     and Falsehoods; and that the three Historians visibly strove to
     outstretch each other: That the _first_ was sparing and modest in
     his Romance; and the _second_, being sensible of the Insufficiency
     of the former's Tale, devises a Miracle of a bigger Size; which
     still not proving sufficient to the End proposed; the _third_
     Writer, rather than his Prophet's Honour should sink for want of a
     Resurrection-Miracle, forges a Story of a monstrously huge one;
     against which it is, and always will be Objection enough, that it
     was not related by the first Historian. So would you Christians
     argue against these three Miracles in another Impostor's Case; and
     there is not a judicious _Critic_ in the Universe, that would not
     approve of the Argument, and applaud the Force of it, tho' you will
     not endure the Thoughts of it in the Case of your _Jesus_.

     "But to come nearer home to you; supposing _John_ (who was then
     above a Hundred, and in his Dotage) had not reported this Miracle
     of _Lazarus_; but that _Clement_ (joining it with his[281]
     incredible Story of the Resurrection of a _Phœnix_) or _Ignatius_,
     or _Polycarp_, or the Author of the _Apostolical Constitutions_ had
     related it; would not your Christian _Critics_ have been at work to
     explode it? There is not an antient extra-evangelical Tradition of
     any Note about _Jesus_, that some or other of your _Critics_ have
     not boggled at; but such a Story as this of _Lazarus_ would have
     been received by none. I question, whether Mr. _Whiston_ would not
     have rejected the _Constitutions_ upon such a Story in them; or if
     his Fancy for some other Things in them had overcome his Reason
     against this; yet _Bishop Smallbroke_, who has written against the
     Canonicalness of the _Constitutions_, with his judicious
     Animadversions upon this Story, would absolutely have overthrown
     their Authority. And what would he have said here? Not only that
     the Miracle smells rankly of Forgery and Fraud, or the
     _Evangelists_, especially _Matthew_, had never forgotten to record
     it; but he would have reminded us of intrinsic Notes (_hereafter to
     be mention'd_) of Absurdity, and Incredibility, that would for ever
     have cashier'd the Belief of it. And whether we _Infidels_ ought
     not to take the same Liberty to criticize on _John_'s Gospel, which
     you do on your Apostolical Fathers, who wrote before him, let the
     impartial and unprejudiced judge: If in justice we ought to take
     it; we are sure we could give two or three notable Reasons (but
     that We will not now put Christians out of Temper with them) why
     _John_ may be suspected of a Mistake or Fraud in this Miracle,
     rather than any other Christian Writer of the _first_ or _second_

To such an unhappy Objection, arising from the unnatural and
preposterous Order of Time, in which they are recorded, are these
three Miracles before us obnoxious. And I am thinking how Ministers of
the Letter will be able to get over it. As for my self, who am for the
mystical Interpretation of these Miracles, I have a solid and
substantial Answer at hand to the foresaid Objection, an Answer that
curiously accounts for the Order of Time in which these Miracles are
related; but my Answer will not please our _Divines_, nor stand them
in any stead; therefore they must look up another good one of their
own, that will comport with the _Letter_; or the said Objection,
improved with another presently against _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, will
be too hard, not for Christianity it self, but for their Ministry.

_Grotius_, being aware of the foresaid Objection, has given us such
a[282] Solution of it as then occurr'd to his Thoughts. Dr. _Whitby_,
not being satisfied with _Grotius_'s Solution, has given us[283]
another: But how weak and insufficient both their Solutions are, I
will not spare Time to consider, till some _Writer_ shall appear in
Defence of the Sufficiency and Strength of one or other of them. And
so I pass to a

2. Second Observation, by Way of Objection to the _Letter_ of these
Miracles, and that is, by enquiring, what became of these three
Persons after their Resurrection? How long did they live afterwards?
And of what Use and Advantage were their restored Lives to the Church
or to Mankind? The Evangelical and Ecclesiastical History is entirely
silent as to these Questions, which is enough to make us suspect their
Stories to be merely romantick or parabolical; and that there were no
such Persons rais'd from the dead; or we must have heard somewhat of
their Station and Conversation in the World afterwards. It's true,
that _Ephiphanius_[284] says, what he found among Traditions, that
_Lazarus_ lived thirty Years after his Resurrection: But how did he
spend his Time all that while? Was it to the Honour of _Jesus_, to the
Service of the Church, and Propagation of the Gospel? Of that we know
nothing; tho' in Reason and Gratitude to _Jesus_, his Benefactor, it
ought to have been so spent; and if it had been so employ'd, History
surely would have inform'd us of it. According to the Opinion of
_Grotius_, in a Citation above, _Lazarus_ for the rest of his restored
Life absconded, and skull'd about the Country for Fear of the _Jews_,
who lay in Wait for him; which is a Suggestion, not only dishonourable
to _Jesus_, as if the same Power, that rais'd him from the dead, could
not protect him against his Enemies; but reproachful to _Lazarus_
himself, who should have chosen to suffer Death again, rather than not
bear an open Testimony to _Jesus_, the Author of his Resurrection.
However it was, we hear no more of _Lazarus_, than that he lived
thirty Years afterwards, which Tradition, without other Memorials of
his Life, brings the Miracle more under suspicion of Fable, than if he
had dy'd soon after it. And of _Jairus_'s Daughter, and of the Widow
of _Naim_'s Son, which is astonishing, we read nothing at all. Does
not this Silence in History about them, make their Miracles
questionable, and but like _Gulliverian_ Tales of Persons and Things,
that out of the Romance, never had any Being.

_Jesus_ did but[285] _call a little Child, and set him in the midst_
of his Disciples; and that Act was remember'd in the Piety and
Zeal[286] of _Ignatius_, who made a renown'd Bishop. But the Favour
and Blessing conferr'd on these three rais'd Persons was exceedingly
greater; and one might have expected, that _Lazarus_ and the Widow's
Son would have been eminent Ministers of the Gospel. But instead of
that, their Lives afterwards were pass'd in Obscurity, or, what's as
bad, Ecclesiastical History has neglected a Report of them. What can
any one hereupon think less, than that the Favour of the Miracles was
lost on undeserving Persons, which I abhor the Thoughts of; or that
their Stories are but Parables, which I rather incline to.

Ministers of the _Letter_ may here say, "That the Ecclesiastical History
of the Apostolical Age is very scanty; and that many Memorials of other
Persons and Transactions are lost and buried in Oblivion: Which unhappy
Fate has attended the after-Lives and Actions of these rais'd Persons,
or undoubtedly we should have had a famous Record of them." This is not
impossible; tho' in the Wisdom of Providence it is hardly probable, but
that some more Remembrance must have been left of one or other, if not
of all the three Persons; in as much as such a Remembrance of them would
now-a-days have no less gain'd a Belief of the Miracles, than this
Historical Silence tends to the Discredit of them.

It's somewhat strange, that we hear no more of the after-Fame and Life
of any of the diseased Persons, whom _Jesus_ miraculously cured;
excepting of the Woman, heal'd of an Issue of Blood; who, tho' she
_spent_ ALL _she had, even_ ALL _her Living_ upon _Physicians_; yet
out of the Remains of it erected, says[287] _Eusebius_, at _Cæsarea
Philippi_, two most costly Statues of Brass, to the Memory of _Jesus_
and of herself, and of the Miracle wrought by him; which Dr.
_Whitby_[288] as if he was tainted with Infidelity, endeavours to make
an idle Tale of. But excepting, I say this Story of this Woman, we
hear nothing of any other heal'd Person; which is Matter of some
Speculation: But that the Persons rais'd from the dead should not at
all be mention'd in History for their Labours and Lives afterwards to
the Honour of _Jesus_, is absolutely unaccountable. Whether such a
profound Silence in History about them be not shocking of the Credit
of the Miracles, let our _Divines_ consider. I am of Opinion that if
_Jesus_ really rais'd these Persons from the dead; this and no other
Reason, in the Providence of God, can be given for the Silence of
Ecclesiastical History about them afterwards, than to make
_dead-letter'd_ Stories of their Miracles, in order to turn our Heads
entirely to the Consideration of their mystical Signification, without
which the _Letter_, for the Argument before us, is deserving of no
Regard nor Credit. But

3. By way of Objection to the _Letter_ of these three Miracles, let us
consider the Condition of the Persons rais'd from the dead; and
whether they were at all proper Persons for _Jesus_ to work such a
Miracle upon, in Testimony of his divine Power. If they were improper
Persons according to the _Letter_, it's not credible that He, who was
the Wisdom of God, would raise them; or if he did, it was because they
were the properest to make mystical Emblems of their Stories.

That _Jesus_ ought to have rais'd all that dy'd, where-ever he came,
during the Time of his Ministry, none, I presume, can hold. Two or three
Instances of his almighty and miraculous Power of this Kind will be
allow'd to be sufficient: But then they must be wisely and judiciously
made Choice of, out of a vast Number of Persons, that must needs die in
that Time. Where then was his Wisdom and Prudence to chuse these three
Persons above others to that Honour? Why were all of them, or indeed any
one of them preferr'd to other Persons of a different Age and Condition
in the World? Nay, if the _Letter_ of their Stories is only to be
regarded, were not all these three Persons almost the improperest and
most unfit of any for _Jesus_ to exercise that Power on?

_Jairus_'s Daughter was an insignificant _Girl_ of twelve Years old: And
there could be no Reason for raising her, but to wipe sorrow from the
Hearts, and Tears from the Eyes of her Parents, who ought to have been
better Philosophers, than immoderately to grieve for her. And was here a
good Reason for _Jesus_ to interpose with his Almighty Power? No
certainly; a Lecture of Patience and Resignation this Case had been
enough. And tho' _Jesus_ could raise her from the dead; yet for as much
as that Favour was to be conferr'd but on a few; and his Miracles ought
to be useful as well as conspicuous, she should have been pass'd by, as
an improper Object of his Power, in Comparison of many others, presently
to be named. If therefore a better Reason, than what's discernible in
the _Letter_, is not to be fetch'd from the Mystery; I can't suppose
that _Jesus_, the Wisdom of God would raise this _Girl_; but that the
modern Belief of her Resuscitation, exclusive of the mystical
Signification, is, as shall be by and by argued, altogether groundless.

The Widow of _Naim_'s Son too was but a νεανισκος _Youth_, and whether
any thing older than the _Girl_ above is doubtful; but his Life
certainly was of no more Importance to the World after, than before his
Resurrection. And why was he then one of the _three_ to be rais'd from
the dead? Why had he this Honour done him, before others of greater Age,
Worth, and Use to Mankind? Some will say, for the Comfort or his
sorrowful Mother. And is this Reason sufficient? A Discourse on the
Pleasures of _Abraham_'s Bosom, where she would e'er long meet her Son,
had been enough to chear her Heart. If therefore the Fathers don't help
me to a solid mystical Reason, why the Son and _only Son_ of a Widow was
to be rais'd by _Jesus_, as they were carrying him to his Burial, I'll
not believe, He would raise this dead _Boy_ rather than many others, for
the Manifestation of his Power; but that the Story of his Resurrection,
as shall soon be reasonably proved, was all Sham and Cheat.

_Lazarus_ indeed was _Jesus_'s Friend, whom he Loved; and as I will
not question but _Jesus_'s Affection was wisely and deservedly placed
on him; so here, to Appearance, was a better Reason for the raising of
him, than of either of the other Two. But even this Reason, supposing
_Jesus_ was to raise but three Persons, is not sufficient against the
Cases of many others, that may be put for the Manifestation of his
Power, for the Illustration of his Wisdom and Goodness, and for the
Conversion of Unbelievers: Consequently, if this Story of _Lazarus_ be
not parabolical, the litteral Fact is disputable, and obnoxious to
such Exceptions presently to be observed against it, as will not be
easily got over.

_Jesus_ rais'd the dead, and wrought other Miracles, say our _Divines_
often, not only to manifest his own Power and Glory, but his Love to
Mankind, and his Inclination to do them good: For which Reason his
Miracles are useful and beneficial as well as stupendous and
supernatural Acts, on purpose to conciliate Men's Affections as well
as their Faith to him. On this Topick our _Divines_ are copious and
rhetorical, when they write on _Jesus_'s Miracles, as if no more
useful and wonderful Works could be done, than what he did. And I do
agree with them, that (what Reason bespeaks) the Miracles of a
pretended Author of Religion ought to be both as useful and great as
well as could be. But such were not _Jesus_'s Miracles according to
_Letter_, and least of all his Acts of raising the dead. For if we
consider the Persons rais'd by him, we shall find, he could hardly
have exerted his Power on any of less Importance to the World, both
before and after their Resurrection. A young _Girl_ indeed is fitter
to be raised than a decripid old Woman, who by the Course of Nature
was to return to Corruption again, as soon as restored to Life: And a
_Boy_ rather than an infirm old Man for the same Reason: And _Lazarus_
the Friend of _Jesus_, perhaps, and but perhaps, rather than his
profess'd Enemy. But what are these three Persons in Comparison of
many others of other Circumstances? Instead of a _Boy_, and a _Girl_
and even of _Lazarus_, who were all of no Consequence to the Publick,
either before or since; I should think, _Jesus_ ought to have rais'd
an useful Magistrate, whose Life had been a common Blessing; an
industrious Merchant, whose Death was a publick Loss; a Father of a
numerous Family, which for a comfortable Subsistance depended on him.
Such dead Objects of _Jesus_'s Power and Compassion could not but
offer themselves, during the Time of his Ministry, and if he meant to
be as useful as he could, in his Miracles, he would have laid hold on
them. If a few Persons only were to be rais'd from the dead, the
foresaid were the properest, whose Resurrection and Return to Life
would have begotten the Applause as well as the Wonder of the World;
would most extensively have spread _Jesus_'s Fame; and would have
gain'd him the Love and Discipleship of all that heard of his being
so great a Benefactor to Mankind. Such Instances of his Power would
have demonstrated him to be a most benign as well as a mighty Agent;
and none in Interest or Prejudice could have open'd their Mouths
against him, especially if the Persons rais'd from the dead were
selected upon the Recommendation of the People of this or that City.
But that an insignificant _Boy_ and a _Girl_, (forsooth!) and the
obscure _Lazarus_, are preferr'd by _Jesus_, to such publick and more
deserving Persons is unaccountable. Their Story therefore, upon this
Argument, savours of Romance and Fraud; and unless the _Mystery_ help
us to, what the _Letter_ can't, a good reason for _Jesus_'s Conduct
here, the Miracles may be hence justly question'd, and the Credibility
of their Report disputed.

But now I am speaking of the Fitness and Unfitness of deceased Persons
to have this grand Miracle wrought on them; it comes into my Head to
ask, why _Jesus_ rais'd not _John_ the Baptist to Life again? A Person
of greater Merits, and more Worthy of the Favour of _Jesus_ and of
this Miracle, could not be. If _Jesus_ could raise any from the dead
he would surely have raised him; and why did he not? This is a
reasonable Question and an Answer should be thought on for it. Was it
a Thing out of _Jesus_'s Power? Not so; He was Omnipotent, and could
by Force or Persuasion have rescued _John_'s Head out of the Hands of
his Enemies; and the tacking it again to his Body, and the infusing
new Life into him was no more difficult to _Jesus_, than the
Resuscitation of a stinking Carcass. If _Jesus_ had here exerted his
Power, and rais'd his dearest Friend and choicest Minister for the
Preparation, if not Propagation of the Gospel, none could question his
Ability to raise any others, tho' he had rais'd no more. But in as
much as _John_ the _Baptist_, one of his singular Merits and Services
to _Christ_, was overlook'd and neglected by him; and three useless
and insignificant Persons had this Honour done them, the Facts may
reasonably be called into question, and, if the Mysteries don't solve
the Difficulty, their litteral Stories may hence be accounted foolish,
fictitious and fabulous; especially if we consider,

4. That none of these three rais'd Persons had been long enough dead
to amputate all Doubt of _Jesus_'s miraculous Power in their
Resurrection. As to _Jairus_'s Daughter, she was but newly expired, if
at all dead, when _Jesus_ brought her to Life again. _Jesus_ himself
says, she was but asleep. And according to _Theophanes Cerameus_[289],
and _Theophilact_[290] there is Room to suspect that this _Girl_ was
only Κατοχος _beside herself_. And it is not impossible, but the
passionate Skreams of the Feminine By-standers might fright her into
Fits, that bore the Appearance of Death; otherwise why did _Jesus_
turn there inordinate Weepers out of the House, before he could bring
her to her Senses again? And why did he tell her Parents, that she was
only in a sleep, but to Comfort them with the Possibility of his
awakening her out of it? Is not this destructive of the Miracle, and
making no more of it, than what another Man might do? And is there not
some Probability, that here's all of this Story? But supposing she was
really dead, yet for the sake of an indisputable Miracle in her
Resurrection, it must be granted, that she ought to have been much
longer, some Days if not Weeks, dead and buried.

As to the Widow of _Naim_'s Son, there was somewhat more of the
Appearance of Death in him, than in _Jairus_'s Daughter. He was
carried forth to his Burial, and so may be presumed to be really a
dead Corpse. But might not here be Fraud or Mistake in the Case?
History and common Fame affords Instances of the mistaken Deaths of
Persons, who sometimes have been unfortunately buried alive, and at
other Times happily, by one Means or other, restored to Life: And who
knows but _Jesus_, upon some Information or other, might suspect this
Youth to be in a lethargick State, and had a Mind to try, if by
chafeing, _&c._ he could not do, what successfully he did, bring him
to his Senses again: Or might not a Piece of Fraud be here concerted
between _Jesus_, a subtil Youth, and his Mother and others; and all
the Formalities of a Death and Burial contrived, that _Jesus_, whose
Fame for a Worker of Miracles was to be rais'd, might here have an
Opportunity to make a shew of a grand one. The Mourning of the Widow,
who had her Tears at Command and _Jesus_'s casual meeting of the
Corpse upon the Road, looks like Contrivance to put the better Face
upon the Matter. God forbid, that I should suspect, there was any
Fraud of this Kind here; but of the Possibility of it, none can doubt.
And where there is a Possibility of Fraud, it is Nonsense, and mere
Credulity to talk of a real, certain and stupendous Miracle,
especially where the Juggler and pretended Worker of Miracles has
been detected in some of his other Tricks. All that I have to say here
to this Matter, is, that if _Jesus_ had a Mind to raise the Son of
this Widow, in Testimony of his divine Power, he should have suffer'd
him to have been buried two or three Weeks first; otherwise, if the
Mystery don't account for _Jesus_'s stopping the Bearers of the Corpse
upon the Road, here is too much Room for suspicion of Cheat in the
Letter of the Story.

_Lazarus_'s Case seems to be the less exceptionable of the three. He
had been buried _four Days_, and supposed to be putrified in the
Opinion of his Sister _Mary_, and of modern Christians: And if so, his
Resuscitation was a most grand and indisputable Miracle. And I could
have wish'd, if I had not loved the _Mystery_ rather than the
_Letter_, that no Cavil and Exception could have been made to it.
Whether _Lazarus_, who was _Jesus_'s Friend and beloved Disciple,
would not come into Measures with his Lord, for the Defence of his
Honour, and Propagation of his Fame, _Infidels_, who take Christianity
for an Imposture, will not question: And whether he would not consent
to be interr'd alive, in a hollow Cave, where there was only a Stone
laid at the Mouth of it, as long as a Man could fast, none of them
will doubt. Four Days was almost too long for a Man to fast without
danger of Health; but if those _four Days_ are number'd according to
the Arithmetick of Jesus's _three Days_ in his Grave, they are
reducible to two Days and three Nights, which Time, if no Victuals
were secretly convey'd with him, a Man might fast in _Lazarus_'s Cave.
As to the _stinking_ of _Lazarus_'s Carcass: that, _Infidels_ will
say, was but the Assertion of his Sister beforehand, like a Prologue
to a Farce. None of the Spectators at his Resurrection say one Word of
his stinking. And as to the Weepings and Lamentations of _Jesus_ and
of _Lazarus_'s Sisters, they will say that was all Sham and
Counterfeit, the better to carry on the Juggle of a feign'd
Resurrection. And what's worst of all, they will say, that tho'
_Jesus_ did call _Lazarus_ forth with a _loud Voice_, as if he had
been as deaf as a dead Man; yet his _Face was bound about with a
Napkin_, so that the Spectators could not discern what was of the
Essence of the Miracle, the Change of his Countenance from a dead to a
live one, which is a plain Sign, that it was all Fraud and Imposture.

God forbid, that I should have the same sense with _Infidels_, of this
Matter; but to be just to their Suggestions and Imaginations here, I
must needs say, there are some other unhappy Circumstances, presently
to be consider'd, in this Story, which, if they are not emblematical,
make it the most notorious Cheat and Imposture that ever was put upon
Mankind. In the mean Time, from what is here argued, it is plain, that
_Lazarus_ was not so long dead and buried, as that there is no Room to
doubt of the Miracle of his Resurrection.

Now whether these Arguments against these three Miracles, drawn from
the Shortness of the Time, in which these Persons lay for dead, have
any Force in them, let our _Divines_ consider. If nothing of all this
is in their Opinion affecting of the Credit of the Miracles; yet they
must allow, that _Jesus_, if he could raise the dead, might have made
Choice of other Instances of Persons, more unquestionably dead, who
had lain longer in their Graves, and were in a visible State of
Putrefaction. And if this grand Miracle of raising the dead was to be
wrought by _Jesus_ for the Manifestation of his Glory, and in
Testimony of his Authority; he should have exercised his Power on some
such Persons, nominated by the Magistrates of this or that City, who
with the People should be present at the miraculous Operation,
beholding the putrified Bodies, (without a Napkin before their Faces)
and how they were suddenly enliven'd and invigorated with new Flesh,
after the Similitude of their pristine Form, when in Health and full
Strength. Because that _Jesus_ rais'd not some such Persons to Life, I
must take the Stories of the three Miracles before us to be but
typical of more mysterious Works; or believe them for the Arguments
above to be downright Cheats and Fables. And what is enough to induce
a modern _Divine_ to this Opinion. Is

5. The Consideration, that none of these rais'd Persons did or could,
after the Return of their Souls to their Bodies, tell any Tales of
their separate Existence otherwise the Evangelists had not been silent
in this main Point, which is of the Essence of Christianity. Are not
our _Divines_ here reduced to an unhappy _Dilemma_, either to deny the
separate Existence of the Soul, or the precedent Deaths of these
rais'd Persons? As Christians, We profess to believe both, which
seemingly are incompatiable; or the Evangelists had made such a
Relation, as their return'd Souls had given of the other World. Was
any Person, in this Age, to be rais'd to Life, that had been any time
dead; the first Thing that his Friends and Acquaintance would enquire
of him, would be to know, where his Soul had been; in what Company;
and how it had fared with him; and Historians would certainly record
his Narrative. The same Curiosity could not but possess People of old,
when these Miracles were wrought; and if the rais'd Persons had told
any Stories of their separate Existance, the Evangelists no less
unquestionally would have reported them, in as much as such a Report
would have been, not only a Confirmation of that Doctrine; which is of
the Essence of our Religion; but an absolute Confutation of the
_Sadducees_ and _Sceptists_ of that Age, and of the _Materialists_ of
this. But this their Silence in this Case is of bad Consequence,
either to the Doctrine of the Soul's Existence in Separation from the
Body, or to these Miracles themselves, since we must hereupon almost
necessarily hold, that these rais'd Persons were not at all dead, or
that their Souls dy'd with them.

The Author of a Sermon, ascrib'd to St. _Augustin_ tells us[291] that
_Lazarus_ after his Resurrection made a large Report of _Hell_, where
he had been: But as this is a mere Fiction of that Author, without the
least Authority from Scripture; so I presume it will be accounted a
_Blunder_ in him, to suppose the Soul of _Lazarus_, the Friend and
beloved of _Jesus_, was in Hell. The Soul of _Jesus_ indeed, for
Reasons best known to himself, upon his Death, descended into Hell,
when some think he should rather have gone, with the penitent Thief,
into Paradise. But the Thoughts, that any of _Jesus_'s Friends should
go to Hell, I suppose will not be born with; or what will become of
the Preachers of this Age, who would be accounted Men or that
Denomination. And if _Lazarus_'s Soul had been in Paradise, it was
hardly a good Work in _Jesus_ to recall it, for thirty Years
afterwards, to the Miseries and Troubles of this wicked World. I wish
therefore our _Divines_ could determine, where _Lazarus_'s Soul was
for the four Days of his Burial; because I can't possibly conceive any
thing else, than that he was not really dead, or that his Soul dy'd
with him, or went to a bad place, otherwise after his Resurrection he
had never absconded for fear of the _Jews_, as if he was unwilling to
die again, and return to the Place from whence he came.

But however it was with the Souls of these rais'd Persons before their
Re-union to their Bodies, here is another Difficulty and Objection
against these Miracles; and how will our _Divines_ get over it?
Perhaps they may say, that tho' these rais'd Persons were before
really dead; yet their Souls were not as yet gone to their Places
prepared of God for them, but continued hovering about their Bodies,
like the Flame about the Snuff of a Candle, with desires

        ----_iterumq; reverti

to be again rejoin'd to them. And withall my Heart let this Answer pass,
if our _Divines_ and _Infidels_ can so agree upon it. As for my own
Opinion, it is this, that these Miracles of _Jesus_ are Parables, and
that it was beside the Purpose of the Parable, and of the _Evangelists_
to say any thing of the Place and State of the Soul upon its Separation
from the Body; otherwise the Letter of their Stories is manifestly
obnoxious to the Objection above, or the Deaths of these pretended
rais'd Persons, upon Christian Principles, are questionable. But

6. And lastly, Let us consider the intrinsick Absurdities and
Incredibilities of the several Stories of these three Miracles. And
such Absurdities shall we find in them, that, if they had been
intended as Testimonies of _Jesus_'s divine Power, had never been
inserted in their Narratives.

As to _Jairus_'s Daughter, and her Resurrection from the dead, St.
_Hilary_[292] hints, that there was no such Person as _Jairus_ whose
Name was fictitious, and coin'd with a spiritual Signification for the
Use of the Parable; and he gives this Reason, and a good Reason it is,
why he thought so, because it is elsewhere[293] intimated in the
Gospel, that none of the Rulers of the Synagogues confessedly believed
on _Jesus_. Is not here then a stumbling-Block at the Threshold of the
Letter of this Story? But why did _Jesus_ say, this Girl was but in a
Sleep? If he was going to work a Miracle in her Resuscitation, he
should not have call'd Death, _Sleep_; but if others had been of a
contrary Opinion, he should first have convinced them of the Certainty
of her Death, before he did the great Work on her. And why did he
charge the Parents of the Girl not to speak of the Miracle? If he
meant it as Testimony of his divine Power, he should rather have
exhorted them, in justice to himself to publish it, and make it well
known. And why, as St. _Ambrose_[294] puts the Question, did he turn
the People out of the House, before he would raise her? The more
Witnesses are present at a Miracle, the better it is attested, and the
more readily believed by others; and who should be present at the
Miracle rather than those who were incredulous of _Jesus_'s divine
Power? Are not all these Circumstances, so many _Absurdities_, which,
if they are not to be accounted for in the _Mystery_, are so far
destructive of the _Letter_, as that it is Nonsense and Folly in our
_Divines_ to talk of a Miracle here, against _Jesus_'s express Word
and Prohibition to the contrary.

As to the Story of the Widow of _Naim_'s Son, excepting what is before
observed of the shortness of the Time, in which he lay dead, and of
the Unfitness of his Person to be rais'd before an Husband and Father
of a Family, to the Comfort of his Wife and Children, (which are
enough to overthrow the Credulity of the Miracle) I have here no more
Fault to find in the Letter of it.

But the long Story of _Lazarus_ is so brimful of Absurdities, that, if
the Letter alone is to be regarded; St. _John_, who was then above a
hundred, when he wrote it, had lived beyond his Reason and Senses, or
he could not have committed them.

I have not Room here to make Remarks on all these Absurdities, which
would be the Work of a Volume; but shall single out three or four of
them at present, reserving the rest for another Opportunity, when the
whole Story of this Miracle will appear to be such a Contexture of
Folly and Fraud in its Contrivance, Execution, and Relation, as is not
to be equall'd in all Romantick History; and our _Divines_ will find
themselves so distress'd upon the Dissection and Display of it, as
that they must of Necessity allow this Story to be but a Parable; or,
what's most grievous to think on, give up their Religion upon it.

_First_ then, observe that _Jesus_ is said to have _wept_ and
_groan'd_ for the Death of _Lazarus_: But why so, says[295] St.
_Basil_? Was not this an _Absurdity_ to weep at all for the Death of
him, whom he could, and was about to recover to Life again? Another
Man may as reasonably grieve for the Absence of his Friend, whose
Company and Presence he can retrieve in an Instant, as that _Jesus_
should shed Tears for _Lazarus_ in this Case. If _Jesus_ could not or
would not raise him from the dead, he ought not, as a Philosopher, who
knows Man is born to die, to betray so much Weakness as to weep for
him. Patience and Resignation unto God upon the Death of our dearest
Friends and Relations is what all Philosophers have rightly taught;
and _Jesus_, one would think, should have been the most Heroical
Example of these Graces; and how came he to fail of it here? A Stoical
Apathy had better became him than such childish and effeminate Grief,
which not only makes him a mean and poor-spirited Mortal; but is a
gross _Absurdity_ and _Incredibility_ upon Consideration of his Will
and Power to fetch _Lazarus_ to Life again. If there be not,
according to the Fathers, Mystery in these Tears of _Jesus_, they are
a foolish and unnatural Prelude to a Farce, he was acting in the
pretended Resuscitation of _Lazarus_.

Some antient Catholicks, not being apprised of the Mystery, were so
offended at these Words, _Jesus wept_, that, as _Epiphanius_[296]
says, they expung'd them out of their Bibles; and I wonder, they have
not, before now, disturb'd the Faith of Ministers of the Letter, to
the utter Rejection of the Miracle.

_Secondly_, Observe that _John_ says, it was with _a loud Voice_, that
_Jesus_ call'd _Lazarus_ forth out of his Cave. And why, I pray, a
louder Voice than ordinary? Was dead _Lazarus_ deafer than _Jairus_'s
Daughter, or the Widow's Son? Or was his Soul at so great a Distance
from his Body, as he could not hear a still and low Voice? Some such
silly Reason as _this_ must be given for this _loud Voice_ here; but
how absurd it is according to the Letter, Infidels will judge, till
Christians can assign a better. The dead can hear the Whisper of the
Almighty, if Power go along with it, as soon as the Sound of a
Trumpet. St. _John_ then should not have written of a _loud Voice_,
unless he meant to adapt his Story to the Capacities and Conceptions
of the Vulgar, who have no Apprehensions of God's Power, out of
sensible and human Representations of it.

_Thirdly_, Because that a Miracle should be well guarded against all
Suspicion of Fraud, I was thinking to make it an _Absurdity_, that the
Napkin, before _Jesus_ rais'd _Lazarus_, was not taken from his Face,
that the Spectators might behold his mortified Looks, and the miraculous
Change of his Countenance from Death unto Life. What _Infidels_ think of
this Circumstance I know not: I hope it is not with them a Token of
Fraud and Imposture; tho' I must needs say, that if the Fathers did not
let me in to the Mystery of the Napkin about _Lazarus_'s Face when
_Jesus_ call'd him forth, I should not my self like it.

_Fourthly_, and lastly, Observe, St. _John_ says, v. 45. that _many of
the Jews, who had seen the Things that Jesus did_ here; _believed on
him_; and _some of them_, v. 46. who did not believe, _went their Ways
to the Pharisees and told them what Things Jesus had done_ in this
pretended Miracle, and how the Business was transacted: Whereupon the
Chief Priests and Pharisees were so far incens'd as v. 53. _from that
Day forth they took Council together to put him to Death_; and Ch.
xii. 10. _consulted, that they might put_ Lazarus _also to Death_.
Jesus _therefore_ (and his Disciples and _Lazarus_ fled for it, for
they) v. 54. _walk'd no more openly among the Jews_, but _went thence
into a Country near to the Wilderness_ (a convenient hiding Place)
_and there continued with his Disciples_; otherwise in all Probability
they had been all sacrificed.

I dare not argue upon these Circumstances, neither would I, for the
Honour of _Jesus_ have mention'd them; but that my old Friend, the
Jewish _Rabbi_, who help'd me to the Satirical Invective against
_Jesus_'s Miracle of _turning Water into Wine_, has hence form'd an
Objection against _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, and sent me a _Letter_
upon it, desiring me to publish it, and exhort the _Clergy_ to answer
it; otherwise he would clandestinely hand it about to the Prejudice of
our Religion: Whereupon I, rather than Christianity should so suffer,
do here publish it, and it is as follows.

    "_Sr._ When we last discours'd on _Jesus_'s Miracles, I promised to
    send you my Thoughts on _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, which I look upon
    as a notorious Imposture, and for the Proof of it, need go no
    farther, than to the Circumstances of its Story, which your
    _Evangelist_ has related.

     "If there had been an indisputable Miracle wrought in _Lazarus_'s
     Resurrection; why were the _Chief-Priests_ and _Pharisees_ so
     incens'd upon it, as _to take Council to put both Jesus_ and
     _Lazarus_ to _Death for it_? Where was the Provocation? I can
     conceive none. Tho' the _Jews_ were ever so canker'd with Malice
     and Hatred to _Jesus_ before; yet such a most stupendous Miracle
     was enough to stop their Mouths, and turn their Hearts: Or if their
     Prejudices against _Jesus_ were insuperable, and they hated him but
     the more for the Number and Greatness of his Miracles; yet why is
     poor _Lazarus_, inoffensive _Lazarus_, upon whom this good and
     great Work was wrought, an Object of their Hatred too? Your
     _Divines_ are to give a credible and probable Account of this
     Matter, such a one as will comport with Reason and Sense; or we
     shall conclude, that it was _Fraud_, detected in this pretended
     Miracle, which justly provok'd the Indignation of our Ancestors.

     "To say, what is all you can say, that it was downright Inhumanity,
     Barbarity and Brutality in the _Jews_ to hate _Lazarus_ as well as
     _Jesus_, will not do here. Tho' this may pass with many Christians,
     who are ready to swallow, without chewing, any evil Reports of our
     Nation; yet it can't go down with reasonable and unprejudic'd Men,
     who must have other Conceptions of human Nature in all Ages and
     Nations, than to think it possible, that a Man, in _Lazarus_'s
     Case, can be hated and persecuted for having had such a good and
     wonderful Work done on him. And why then was he hated and
     persecuted? I say, for this, and no other Reason, than because he
     was a Confederate with _Jesus_ in the wicked Imposture, he was
     putting upon Mankind.

     "But supposing, what is never to be granted, that the _Jews_ of old
     were so inhuman, brutish, and barbarous as to hate and persecute
     _Lazarus_ as well as _Jesus_ for this Miracle; yet why did _Jesus_
     and his Disciples, with _Lazarus_, run away and abscond upon it?
     for they v. 54. _walk'd no more openly among the_ Jews, _but went
     thence into a Country near to the Wilderness, and there_ Jesus
     _continued with his Disciples_. Is not here a plain Sign of Guilt
     and of Fraud? Men, that have God's Cause, Truth and Power on their
     Side, never want Courage and Resolution to stand to it. And
     however your Christian _Priests_ may palliate the cowardly and
     timerous Conduct of _Jesus_ and his Confederates in this Case; yet
     with me, it's like Demonstration, that there was a discover'd Cheat
     in the Miracle, or they would undauntedly have faced their Enemies,
     without Fears And Apprehensions of Danger from them.

     "Our Ancestors then, who unquestionably detected the Fraud, were in
     the right on't to prosecute with Severity, the whole Party
     concern'd in it: And if they had aveng'd the Wickedness of it upon
     _Lazarus_ as well as they did upon _Jesus_, I should have commended
     them for it. Whether such a monstrous Imposture, as was this
     pretended Miracle, happily discover'd does not call aloud for
     Vengeance and most exemplary Punishment; and whether any Nation of
     the World would suffer the like with Impunity, let any Man judge.

     "For all the Reports of your Gospels, it is unnatural to hate a
     miraculous Healer of Diseases; and there must be somewhat supprest
     about the Inveteracy of the _Jews_ to _Jesus_, or his healing
     Power, if it was so great as is imagined, must have reconciled them
     to him: But that they should hate not only _Jesus_ for raising the
     dead, but the Person rais'd by him, is improbable, incredible, and

     "If Historians can parallel this Story of the Malignity of the
     _Jews_ towards _Jesus_ and _Lazarus_ upon such a real Miracle, with
     any Thing equally barbarous and inhuman, in any other Sect or
     Nation; we will acknowledge the Truth of it against our ancient
     Nation: Or if such Inhumanity, abstractedly consider'd, be at all
     agreeable to the Conceptions any one can form of Human Nature in
     the most uncivilis'd and brutish People, we will allow our
     Ancestors, in this Case, to have been that People.

     "Was such a real and indisputable Miracle, as this of _Lazarus_ is
     supposed, to be wrought at this day in Confirmation of
     Christianity, I dare say, it would bring all us _Jews_, to a Man,
     into the Belief of it: And I don't think it possible, for any
     People to be so begotten, byass'd, and prejudiced, as not to be
     wrought on by it. Or if they would not part with their Interests
     and Prejudices upon it, they would have more Wit and Temper, than
     to break forth into a Rage against all or any of the Persons
     concern'd in it. And, for my Life, I can entertain no worse
     Thoughts of our old Nation.

     "Supposing God should send an Ambassador at this day, who, to
     convince Christians of the Mischiefs and Inconvenience of an
     _Hireling Priesthood_, should work such a Miracle as was this of
     _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, in the Presence of a multitude of
     Spectators; how would your _Bishops_ and _Clergy_ behave themselves
     upon it? Why, they would be as mute as Fishes; or if they did fret
     and grieve inwardly for the Loss of their Interests; yet they would
     have more Prudence (ask them else,) than to show their Anger
     openly, and persecute both _Agent_ and _Patient_ for it. Wherefore
     then are they so censorious and uncharitable as to preach and
     believe another Notion and Doctrine of our Ancestors?

     "But if a false Prophet, for the subversion of an _Hireling
     Priesthood_, should, in spite to the _Clergy_, counterfeit such a
     Miracle, and be detected in the Operation; how then would Priests
     and People, Magistrates and Subjects behave upon it? Why, they
     would be full of Indignation, and _from that day forth would take
     Council to put_ the Impostor and his Confederate to Death, of which
     they would be most deserving; and if they did not abscond and fly
     for it, like _Jesu_ and his Disciples _to a Wilderness in the
     Country_ to hide themselves, the Rage of the Populace would hardly
     wait the Leisure of Justice to dispatch and make terrible Examples
     of them. Was not this exactly the Case of _Jesus_'s Imposture in
     the Resurrection of _Lazarus_; and of the Punishment he was
     threaten'd with, and afterwards most justly underwent for it?

     "Mankind may be in some Cases very obdurate, and so hard of Belief,
     as to stand it out against Sense, Reason and Demonstration: But I
     will not think worse of our Ancestors than of the rest of Mankind;
     or that they any more than others would have withstood a clear and
     indisputable Miracle in _Lazarus_'s Resuscitation. Such a manifest
     Miracle, let it be wrought for what End and Purpose, we can
     possibly imagine, would strike Men with Awe and Reverence; and none
     could hate and persecute the Author of the Miracle; least He who
     could raise the dead, should exert his Power against themselves,
     and either wound or smite them dead with it. For which Reason, the
     Resurrection of _Lazarus_, on the certain Knowledge of our
     Ancestors, was all Fraud, or they would have reverenc'd and adored
     the Power of him, that did it.

     "It may be true, what _John_ says, that _many of the Jews, who had
     seen the Things that Jesus did, believed on him_, that is, believed
     that he had wrought here a great Miracle: But who were these? the
     ignorant and credulous, whom a much less _juggler_ than Mr.
     _Fawkes_ could easily impos'd on. But on the other hand, it is
     certain, according to _Christian Commentators_, that _some of them_
     did not believe the Miracle, but _went their ways to the Pharisees
     and told them what Things Jesus had done_, that is, told them,
     after what manner the Intrigue was managed; and complain'd of the
     Fraud in it. How they came to suspect and discover the Fraud, was
     not _John_'s Business to relate; and for want of other ancient
     Memorials, we can only guess at it. Perhaps they discern'd some
     motion in _Lazarus_'s Body, before the Word of Command, to _come
     forth_, was given; perhaps they discover'd some Fragments of the
     Food, that for _four days_ in the Cave, he had subsisted on. But
     however this was, they could not but take Notice of the _Napkin
     about his Face_ all the while; which _Jesus_, to prevent all
     suspicion of Cheat, should have first order'd to be taken off, that
     his mortify'd Countenance might be view'd, before the miraculous
     Change of it to Life was wrought. This neglect in _Jesus_ (which I
     wonder _John_ had no more Wit than to hint at) will be a lasting
     Objection to the Miracle. _Jesus_ was wiser, than not to be aware
     of the Objection, which he would have obviated, if he durst, by a
     Removal of the Napkin, to the satisfaction of all Spectators there
     present. Because this was not done, we _Jews_ now deny, there was
     any Miracle wrought; and, whether our Unbelief upon this
     Circumstance be not well grounded, we appeal to Christian Priests
     themselves, who must own, that if there was a Miracle here, the
     Matter was ill conducted by _Jesus_, or foolishly related by his

     "It is a sad Misfortune, that attends our modern enquiry after
     Truth, that there are no other Memorials extant of the Life and
     Miracles of _Jesus_, than what are written by his own Disciples.
     Not only old Time has devour'd, but Christians themselves, (which
     in the Opinion of the impartial makes for us) when they got Power
     into their Hands, wilfully destroy'd many Writings of our
     Ancestors, as well as of _Celsus_ and _Porphiry_ and others, which
     they could not answer; otherwise I doubt not but they would have
     given us clear Light into a the Imposture of _Lazarus_'s
     Resurrection: But if _Jesus_, according to his own _Evangelists_,
     was arraign'd for a _Deceiver_ and _Blasphemer_, in pretending to
     the Sonship and Power of God by his Miracles; in all Probability
     this Piece of Fraud in _Lazarus_ was one Article of the Indictment
     against him; and what makes it very likely, is that the _Chief
     Priests_ and _Pharisees_, from the Date of this pretended Miracle,
     _took Council together to put him to Death_, not clandestinely or
     tumultuously to murder him, but judicially to punish him with
     Death, which, if they proved their Indictment by credible and
     sufficient Witnesses, he was most worthy of.

     "As it is plain from the Story in _John_, that there was a Dispute
     among the By-standers at _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, whether it was a
     real Miracle or not; so it is the Opinion of us _Jews_, which is of
     the Nature of a Tradition, that the _Chief-Priests_ and civil
     Magistrates of _Bethany_, for the better Determination of the
     Dispute and quieting of the Minds of the People, requir'd that
     _Jesus_ should re-act the Miracle upon another Person, there lately
     dead and buried. But _Jesus_ declining this Test of his Power, the
     whole Multitude of Believers as well as of Unbelievers before,
     question'd the Resurrection of _Lazarus_; and were highly incens'd
     against both him and _Jesus_ for the Deceit in it. And this was
     _one_ Reason among others of that vehement and Universal Outcry and
     Demand, at _Jesus_'s Tryal, for his Crucifixion. I'll not answer
     for the Certainty of this Tradition or Opinion, but as the
     Expedient was obvious, so it has the Face of Truth and Credibility;
     and for the Proof of it, I need only appeal to Christian _Priests_
     and _Magistrates_; whether, under a Dispute of a Miracle of that
     Consequence, they would not require, for full Satisfaction, it
     should be acted over again; and, if the _Juggler_ refused, whether
     there would not be a general Clamour of People of all Ranks for his

     "_Matthew_, _Mark_ and _Luke_, who knew as much of this
     Sham-Miracle as _John_, had not the Confidence to report it;
     because, when they wrote, many Eye-Witnesses of the Fraud were
     alive to disprove and contradict them; therefore they confined
     their Narratives to _Jesus_'s less juggling Tricks, that had pass'd
     more current: But after the _Jewish_ State was dissolved, their
     judicial Records were destroy'd, and every Body dead that could
     confute him, _John_ ventures abroad the Story of this Miracle; and
     if the good Providence of God had not infatuated him, in the
     Insertion of the Circumstances here observed, it might have pass'd
     through all Generations to come, as well as it has done for many
     past, for a grand Miracle.

     "Thus, _Sir_, have you a few of my Thoughts on the pretended
     Miracle of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection. I have more to bestow on it,
     but that I would not be tedious. There's no need to argue against
     the other two Resurrection-Stories. You know _omne majus includit
     minus_, and if the greatest of the three Miracles be an Imposture,
     the two less ones of Consequence are Artifice and Fraud. And rather
     than the Miracle of _Lazarus_ shall stand its Ground, I'll have
     t'other Bout at it from some other Circumstances; the Consideration
     of which will make it as foolish and wicked an Imposture, as ever
     was contrived and transacted in the World; such a _wicked
     Imposture_ of most pernicious Consequence to the Welfare of the
     Publick, that it is no Wonder, the People, by an unanimous Voice,
     call'd for the Releasement of _Barabbas_, a Robber and Murderer,
     before _Jesus_. I don't suppose these Arguments against this
     Miracle will be convincing of your Christian _Clergy_, who are
     hired to the Belief of it. But however, a _Bishop_ of many
     _thousands_ a Year to believe, can't in Conscience deny, that the
     Arguments above are a sufficient Justification of our _Jewish_
     Disbelief of it.

     "If you, Sir, should write a Discourse gainst the Letter of the
     Story of _Jesus_'s Resurrection, I beg of you to accept of a few of
     my Conceptions on that Head, which, I promise you, shall be out of
     the common Road of thinking. Your _Divines_ think they have
     exhausted that Subject, and absolutely confuted all Objections that
     can be made against it, but are much mistaken. Sometimes we _Jews_
     dip into their Writings on this Head, and always smile with
     Indignation at their foolish Invectives against the Blindness of
     the Eyes, and Hardness of the Hearts of our Ancestors. If they
     would but favour us with a Liberty to write for our selves, a
     reasonable Liberty, which in this Philosophical Age we don't
     despair of, especially under so wise just and good a Civil
     Administration, as this Nation is happily bless'd with, we would
     cut them out some more Work, which they are not aware of. In the
     mean Time I am your assured Friend,"


So ends the Letter of my Friend, the _Jewish Rabbi_, which consists of
_calm_ and _sedate_ Reasoning, or I would not have publish'd it; for I
am resolv'd he shall no more impose upon me with his ludicrous and
bantering Stuff, like his Satirical Invective against _Jesus_'s
Miracle of _turning Water into Wine_, so offensive to our Godly
_Bishops_. And because it consists of _calm_ and _sedate_ Reasoning,
which _Bishop Smalbroke_ allows of, I hope his _Lordship_ will take it
into Consideration, and write an Answer to it, which I, without the
Help of the Mystery, can't do.

If the foresaid _Letter_ be offensive to our _Clergy_, who don't judge
it meet that the _Jews_ should take this Liberty to write against the
Miracles of our Saviour, and in Vindication of their own disbelief of
Christianity, I beg of them, for the Love of _Jesus_, not to let their
Displeasure be visibly seen; because the _Jews_ will then laugh in their
Sleeves, and perhaps openly insult and triumph upon it: But if they will
privately acquaint me with their Displeasure at it, I'll promise them
to hold no more Correspondence with such _Jewish Rabbies_; neither will
I ever hereafter publish any other Objections against _Christ_'s
Religion and Miracles, than what come from the _Hotentots_ and
_Pawawers_: and then it will be strange, if our dignified _Clergy_, of
most grave and demure Looks, can't solidly confute the worst, that such
ignorant and illiterate People can urge against them.

And thus have I done with my Objections against the Letter of these
three Miracles. If our _Divines_ shall think there is little or
nothing of Force in them; then an Answer, which I should be glad to
see, may the more easily be made to them. As for my part, without
being conceited of the Acuteness and Strength of any of the
Objections, I think it impossible satisfactorily to reply to them,
without having Recourse to the Opinions of the Fathers, that these
three Miracles, whether they were ever litterally transacted or not,
are now but emblematical Representations of mysterious and more
wonderful Operations to be perform'd by _Jesus_.

To the Fathers then let us go for their mystical Interpretation of
these Miracles. St. _Augustin_, in his Introduction to a Sermon on the
Widow of _Naim_'s Son, says[297] thus, "There are some so silly as to
stand amazed at the corporal Miracles of _Jesus_, and have no
Consideration of his greater and spiritual Miracles, signified by
them: but others who are wiser can hear of the Things that _Jesus_ did
on Men's Bodys, without being astonish'd at them, chusing rather to
contemplate with Admiration his more wonderful Works on Men's Souls;
after the similitude of bodily Miracles. And these are the Christians
that conform their Studies to the Will of our Lord; who would have his
corporal Miracles, spiritually interpreted: For He wrought not
Miracles in the Flesh, for the sake of such Miracles abstractedly
consider'd; but that, if they were surprising to some Mens Senses,
they should be more astonishing to the Understanding of others, who
apprehend the spiritual Meaning of them. And they who by Contemplation
can attain to the mystical Signification of _Jesus_'s Miracles, are
the best Scholars and most learn'd Disciples in his Church and School.
And, (_speaking of the Absurdity of Jesus's cursing the Figtree
according to the Letter_) presently after says, that this he observ'd,
that he might persuade his Hearers to think, that our Lord _Jesus_
therefore wrought Miracles, that he might signify somewhat by them,
which he would have his Disciples to learn and consider of. Come now,
_says he_, and let us see what we are mistically and spiritually to
understand by the Stories of the three Persons rais'd from the dead."

There are two Ways, that the Fathers took in the moral and mystical
Interpretation of these Miracles: One was from the Number _three_, and
their Difference in Magnitude. According to which they said with St.
_Augustin_[298] that these three sorts of dead Persons, so rais'd to
Life, are Figures of three sorts of Sinners, whom _Jesus_ raiseth from
the death of Sin to the Life of Righteousness. They who have conceiv'd
Sin in their Hearts, and have not brought it forth into Act; are
figured by _Jairus_'s Daughter, who lay dead in the House of her
Father, and was not taken forth to her Burial. Others, who after
Cogitation and Consent, pass into actual Sin are figured by the Young
Man, carried towards his Grave. But those Sinners, who are habituated
and long accustom'd to Sin, are like _Lazarus_ bury'd, and in a
stinking Condition under the Corruption of it; whom _Jesus_, for all
that, with the _loud Voice_ of the Prædication of his Gospel, will
call forth out of the Death and Grave of their Sins to a new Life. So
does St. _Augustin_ make these three dead Persons and their
Resurrections, Emblems of the said three Sorts of Sinners, who are
dead in Trespasses and Sins, and by the Power of _Jesus_ quicken'd to
a Life of Righteousness. And to this Opinion of St. _Augustin_, do St.
_Ambrose_, _Eusebius Gallicanus_, and Venerable _Bede_ agree. And
according to this Notion of these Miracles they descend to a
particular Explication of the several Parts of their Stories. As to
give you two or three Instances.

The People who were turn'd out of the House, upon the raising of
_Jairus_'s Daughter, which is an _Absurdity_ according to the _Letter_
are, says[299] _Bede_, a Multitude of wordly and wicked Thoughts,
which, except they are excluded from the Secrets of the Heart, are a
Hindrance of the Resurrection of a Sinner to a new Life.

The Bearers of the Young Man[300] to his Burial are Vices, evil
Spirits, Hæreticks, and Seducers; and the _Widow_, his Mother, to whom
he was restored, is the _Church_, who mourns for the Death of such
Sinners, as are typified by that Young Man.

_Jesus_'s _weeping_ for dead _Lazarus_, which is an _Absurdity_
according to the _Letter_, is a Sign[301] of the deplorable State,
that habitual Sinners are in, enough to excite the Sorrows and
Mournings of good Christians, who have the Spirit of _Christ_, for
them. And the Stone that lay at the Grave of _Lazarus_, is[302] a
figure of the Hardness of the Heart of such a Sinner which must be
taken away before _Jesus_ will call him to a new Life. So do the
Fathers moralise and allegorise every Minute Circumstance of these
three Miracles, as any one, who will consult them, may find, and save
me the Trouble of a tedious Recital of their Authorities.

But the other mystical Way of interpreting these three Miracles is by
making them Types of three great Events at the Time of _Christ_'s
spiritual Advent. Accordingly the raising of _Jairus_'s Daughter is a
Type of the Conversion of the _Jews_ at that Day, as _Eusebius
Gallicanus_[303] and venerable _Bede_[304] and others expound it. By
_Jairus_, the Ruler of a _Synagogue_; is meant _Moses_[305]; and by
his Daughter is to be understood the _Jewish Church_, which, being at
present in a State of Spiritual Death, will be revived and converted
in the Perfection of Time. And to the mystical Resurrection or
Restitution of the _Jewish Synagogue_, call'd _Jairus_'s Daughter,
will _Jesus_ come[306] at the same Time he heals the Woman of the
Church of her Issue of Blood. And this is the Reason that the Stories
of these two Miracles are blended together by the _Evangelists_, with
their synchronical Numbers of the Age of the _Girl_ and of the Disease
of the Woman; because they are Types of that blessed Scene of Affairs
at the Conversion of the _Jews_, when the Fulness of the _Gentiles_ is
come in. Concerning which blessed state of the Church, _Origen_[307]
says, _Jesus_ wrought many Miracles, by Way of Type and Figure.

Among all the Miracles that _Jesus_ wrought, and are recorded by the
_Evangelists_, I think, as far as I have had Occasion to observe, the
Fathers are most scanty in their Interpretations of that of the Widow
of _Naim_'s Son: Excepting what is before noted of his being a figure of
a Sinner dead in actual, tho' not habitual Sin, I find very little. But
if _Origen_'s Comments on this Miracle had been extant, I dare say he
would have given us this following Interpretation of it. This Widow, he
would have call'd the Church; and her _only Son_ or masculine Offspring,
he would have call'd the _Spiritual Sense_ of the Scriptures, which is
now dead, and that the _Ministers_ of the _Letter_, who are his Bearers,
are for interring him within the _Earth_ of the _Letter_: But _Jesus_,
upon his Spiritual Advent will put a stop to the Intention of such
Bearers, by reviving the _Spiritual Sense_ of the Scriptures; and by
restoring it, like a _quicken'd Son_, to the Comfort of his Mother, the
Church; who has been in a sorrowful and lamentable Condition upon the
Death and Want of it: This, I am sure, would be _Origen_'s
Interpretation of this Miracle, which, if I had Room here, by a little
Circumlocution, I could prove.

As to _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, it is in the Opinion of the Fathers[308]
a Type of the general and mystical Resurrection of Mankind in the
Perfection of Time. But this is a most copious Subject; and unless I
could here throughly handle it, I had much better say nothing.

And thus have I done with the three Resurrection Stories. If the
_Convocation_, next Session, would determine by an Orthodox Vote,
whether _Jesus_ rais'd any more, than the said three Persons, from the
dead or not; I would present them with a new and more entertaining Chain
of Thoughts against these Miracles; such a Chain of Thoughts, as, upon
the Conclusion, let them hold which Side of the Question, they please,
will necessarily induce us to hold the mystical Meaning of these
Miracles, or to grant that _Jesus_ rais'd none from the dead at all.

My next and last _Discourse_ on _Jesus_'s Miracles shall be against
the Letter of the Story of his own Resurrection, in which, if our
_Bishops_ will keep their Temper and Patience, till I publish it, I'll
cut out such a Piece of Work for our _Boylean Lectures_, as shall
hold them tug, so long as the _Ministry_ of the _Letter_ and an
_Hireling Priesthood_ shall last. If _Christ be not risen_, then,
according to the Inference of St. _Paul_, _is their Preaching vain_;
and why should the People be any longer charg'd with the Maintenance
of an ignorant and idle Order of Men, to no Use and Purpose?

If I had not had Experience of it, I could never have believed that, for
all the ludicrous Nature of these _Discourses_, our _dignified Clergy_
could have been so foolish or malicious as to prosecute me for an
_Infidel_ and _Blasphemer_ upon them. How a Man may be mistaken in
himself! I took my self for a real Advocate for the Truth of
Christianity; and was so vain as to imagine these Discourses tended to a
Demonstration of _Jesus_'s Messiahship: And tho' the _Bishop_ of
_London_ may be of a contrary Opinion, yet I am still so conceited of my
Ability to defend our Religion, that I'll stake my Life against his
_Bishoprick_, which I'll not be troubled with, if I win it, that he
can't form an Objection against Christianity, which I can't solidly
confute, and make our Readers merry too, with his Weakness and
Impertinence in it. But perhaps it may be unbecoming of his Lordship's
Character, and against the Grain, to make an Objection to that
Religion, which he finds much _temporal_, as well as some _spiritual_
Comfort in the Profession of; I will therefore descend to another
Proposal, _viz._ If he'll but publish an Answer to the _Jewish Rabbi_'s
Letter in this Discourse, and vouchsafe me the pleasure of a Reply to
him; then (to save the Civil Magistrate's Trouble) I will suffer any
Punishment that in his Clemency he shall think fit to inflict on me, for
what's past. Oh, what a Hazard do I here run of Life or Liberty!

Some Christians, in my Case, would think it a sad Misfortune to be
odiously represented as an _Infidel_ and _Blasphemer_; but I, in
Temper and Principle, despise such Obloquies, Slanders and
Defamations; and would not give a Rush to remove them, so long as I
had the Answer of a good Conscience that I was undeserving of them:
But considering, that it is the Duty of a Christian to seek the Peace
and Friendship of all about him, and especially of our good _Bishops_,
who, in Compassion to the Danger they think my Soul is in, have taken
zealous and laudable Pains with the _Civil Magistrate_ for my
Conviction and Conversion; I do here, for the sake of a Reconciliation
with their _Lordships_ and other good People, make a formal and
solemn Confession of my Christian Faith, which tho' I don't express in
the Words of the _Apostical_, _Nicene_ or _Athanasian_ Creeds; yet
will do it in such Terms as will be a Demonstration that at the Bottom
I am found as a _Roch_. Be it known then to all Christian People, that

_Imprimis_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the
Ministry of the Letter of the _Old_ and _New_ Testament is downright

_Item_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Miracles
of _Jesus_, as they are recorded by the Evangelists, _litterally_
understood, are the _lying Wonders_ of Antichrist.

_Item_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that all opposition
and Contradiction to spiritual and allegorical Interpretations of the
Scripture, is the Sin of _Blasphemy_ against the Holy Ghost.

_Item_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the
_Ministry_ of the _Spirits_ or allegorical Interpretations of the Law
and the Prophets will be the Conversion of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_.

_Item_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the
_Ministry_ of the _Letter_, and an Hireling-Priesthood have been the
Cause of the Infidelity and Apostacy of these latter Times.

_Item_, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Spirit
and Power of _Jesus_ will soon enter the Church and expel
Hireling-Priests, who make Merchandise of the Gospel, out of her,
after the manner he is suppos'd to have driven the _Buyers_ and
_Sellers_ out of the Temple.

These are a few Articles of that Faith, once deliver'd to the _Saints_
of the primitive Church, which I firmly believe, and will earnestly
contend for. Now I appeal to the Christian World, whether a Man of
such a Faith, like Heart of Oak, can be an Infidel or Blasphemer. Upon
this ingenuous Confession of my Faith, which I make by way of
Atonement for my past supposed Errors and Offences, I hope the
_Bishops_ and all good Christian People will be reconciled to me.

St. _James_ says, that _Faith without Works is dead_, and how a Man
ought to show his Faith by his Works, without which Faith is an empty
and airy Nothing. Accordingly I am making what haste I can to show the
Sincerity of my Faith by these my _Works_ and _Discourses_ of this
Kind. And by the Grace of God, I hope our Bishops will find me as
unmoveable as a Rock in the said Faith.

According to the foresaid Articles of this my Faith, I am so fully
convinced, not only of the Error of the _Ministry_ of the _Letter_,
but of the Mischiefs and Inconveniences of an _Hireling-Priesthood_,
that, having set my Shoulders to the Work, I am resolv'd, by the Help
of God, to endeavour to give _both_ a Lift out of this World. This is
fair and generous Warning to our _Clergy_ to sit fast, and look to
their own Safety, or they may find me a stronger Man than they may be
aware of. And tho' I don't expect long to survive the Accomplishment
of so great and glorious a Work; yet I am delightfully ravish'd and
transported with the Forethought and Contemplation of the Happiness of
Mankind, upon the Extinction of Ecclesiastical _Vermin_, out of God's
House; when the World will return to its _Primogenial_ and
_Paradisaical_ State of Nature, Religion and Liberty; in which we
shall be _all taught of God_, and _have no need_ of a foolish and
contentious Priest, hired to harangue us with his Noise and Nonsense.
Which blessed State of the World God of his infinite Mercy hasten, for
the sake of our Spiritual Messiah, Mediator and Redeemer _Jesus
Christ_. To whom be Glory for ever, _Amen_.




[270] Mat. ix. Mark v. Luke viii.

[271] Luke vii.

[272] John xi.

[273] Quot autem mortuos visibiliter suscitaverat quis novit? non enim
omnia quæ fecit scripta sunt. _Johannes_ hoc dicit, multa alia fecit
Jesus, quæ si scripta essent, arbitror totum Mundum non posse Libros
capere. Multi ergo sunt alii sino dubio suscitati, sed non frustra
tres commemorati. _In Serm._ xcviii.

[274] John xxi. 25.

[275] Non autem vacat a Mysterio, quod, cum plures Dominus
suscitaverat, tres tantum Evangelistæ eum suscitasse scripserunt. _In
Homil. Feriæ quintæ post Dominis. 4tam._

[276] Suscitaverat Dominus filiam Jairi Principis Synagogæ, sed adhuc
mediante morte, adhuc viante Spiritu, adhuc Anima Claustra Tartari
nesciente. Suscitavit & unicum Matris filium, sed sic ut retineret
Pheretrum, ut anticiparet Sepulchrum, ut Corruptionem suspenderet, &
præveniret fætorem; ut ante mortuo Vitam redderet, quam tota mortuus
jura Mortis intraret. Circa Lazarum vero quod geritur totum singulare
est, quem circa Vis tota Mortis impleta est. _In Pet. Chrysol. Serm._

[277] Inter omnia Miracula quæ fecit Dominus noster Jesu Christus,
Lazari Resurrectio præcipue prædicatur. _St. August. in Loc. Johan._

[278] Mirum videri potest Historiam hanc tam illustrem a Matthæo &
Marco omissam. _In Loc. Luc._

[279] Sed videtur mihi horum uterq; contentus fuisse uno Exemplo
redditæ Vitæ in Jairi filia ex quo similia alia possunt intelligi. _In
Loc. Luc._

[280] Nondum perfecta Mors est in Puella. _St. August._ in Serm. xcviii.

[281] In Epist. prima ad Corinth. Cap. xxv.

[282] Quæri solet, cur hanc tam nobilem Historiam priores Evangelii
scriptores non attigerint. Mihi hoc succurrit, cum illi scriberent,
vixisse resuscitatum Lazarum, & periculum ei fuisse a judæis, si quod
illi acciderat, palam vulgaretur. Nam etiam mox narratur C. xii. 10, ob
hoc ipsum structas ei insidias. Quare visum illis hoc ad tempus
subticeri posse, cum alia Exempla resuscitatorum suppeterent. At mortuo
Lazaro, cum jam nemini Periculum ex rei Narratione fieri posset, additum
hoc a Johanne in hac quasi prætermissorum Collectione. _In Loc. Johan._

[283] The last of the three _Evangelists_ writing but fifteen Years
after our Lord's Ascension, might think it needless so mention a
Miracle concerning a Person, living so near _Jerusalem_, where there
was so great a Fame thereof, and so many living Witnesses. St. _John_,
writing his Gospel, say the Ancients, above sixty Years after our
Lord's Ascension, when by the Deaths of the Person, and most of the
Witnesses that were present at his Resurrection, the Memory and Fame
of it might be much impair'd, had great Reason to perpetuate the
Memory of it, by this large Rehearsal of it. _In Loc. Johan._

[284] Quin & illud inter traditiones reperimus triginta tum Annos
natum fuisse Lazarum, cum a mortuis excitatus est; atq; idem ille
postea triginta aliis annis vixit. _In Hæres._ lxvi. _Sect._ 34.

[285] Matt. xviii. 2.

[286] In Nicephor. Callist. Eccl. Hist. L. ii. c. 35.

[287] In Eccl. Hist. L. vii. c. 18.

[288] In Loc. Matthæi.

[289] Puellam ex illo Tumultu plangentium stupore correptam esse, non
vero defunctam. _In Homil. de Juri filia._

[290] In Loc. Matthæ.

[291] Atque ut miraculum divinæ Virtutis accresceret, dum Convivis
interrogantibus tristia Loca pænarum, sedesq; alta nocte semper
obscuras, Lazarus indicat diligenti narratione per ordinem. Diu
quæsiti longisq; temporibus ignorati invenerunt tandem Inferi
Proditotem. _In Serm._ cxvi. _Append. St. August._

[292] Princeps hic, Lex esse intelligitur, quæ Dominum orat pro Plebe,
quam ipsa Christo prædicata ejus Adventos Expectatione nutriverat, ut
Vitam mortuæ reddat. Nam nullum Principem credidisse legimus, ex quo
Persona hujus principis orantis merito in Typum aptabitur. _In Loc.

[293] John vii. 48, and xii. 42.

[294] Quæ tamen tantæ diversitatis Causa? Supra publice Viduce filius
suscitatur, hic removentur plures arbitri. _In Loc. Luc._

[295] Qua igitur Ratione, qui tanta hæc erat facturus, id quod evenit,
judicasset merito Lacrymis esse prosequendum? _In Homil. de Gratiarum

[296] _Lacrymatus est Jesus_, quod aliquando erasum fuisse a
Catholicis quibusdam scribit Epiphanius. Vid. _Drusium in Loc. Johan._

[297] Quidam corporalia ejus Miracula stupentes, majora intueri non
norunt. Quidam vero ea, quæ gesta audiunt in Corporibus nunc amplius
in Animis admirantur.----Dominus enim noster Jesus Christus ea quæ
faciebat corporaliter, etiam spiritaliter volebat intelligi; neque
enim Miracula propter Miracula faciebat, sed ut illa quæ faciebat,
mira essent Videntibus, vera essent Intelligentibus.----Alii & facta
mirati & intellecta assecuti. Tales nos esse debemus in Schola
Christi.----Hoc dixi (de ficu arefacta) ut persuaderem Dominum Jesum
Christum ideo Miracula fecisse, ut aliquid illis Miraculis
significaret; ut excepto eo, quod mira & magna & divina erant, aliquid
inde etiam disceremus. Videamus ergo quid nos discere voluit in tribus
mortuis, quos suscitavit. _In Serm._ xcviii.

[298] Ista tria Genera Mortuorum, sunt tria Genera Peccatorum, quos
hodie suscitat Christus.----Sunt ergo instar filiæ Synagogæ Principis,
qui peccatum intus in Corde babent, in facto nondum habent. Condemnatur
Consensus ad Iniquitatem; respiratur ad Salutem atq; Justitiam. Surgit
mortuus in Domo, reviviscit Cor in Cogitationis Secreto. Facta est ista
Resurrectio Animæ mortuæ intus intra Latebras Conscientiæ, tanquam intra
Domesticos Parietes.----Alii post Consensum eunt in factum, tanquam
efferentes mortuum, ut quod latebat in Secreto, appareat in publico.
Nonne illi juveni dictam est, _Tibi dico, surge_ & redditus est Matri;
sic qui jam fecerit, si forte admonitus & commotus Verbo Veritatis ad
Christi Vocem resurgit, vivus redditur Ecclesiæ.----Qui autem faciendo
quod malum est, etiam mala Consuetudine se implicant, tales Consuetudine
maligna pressi, tanquam sepulti, ita sepulti ut de Lazaro dictum est,
jam _putet_. In Serm. xcviii.

[299] _Cum ejecta esset Turba, intravit._ Moraliter non resurgit
Anima, quæ intrinsecus jacet mortua, nisi prius a secretioribus Cordis
excludatur inopportuna sæcularium Cogitationum Multitudo. _In Loc.

[300] Mali isti Portitores, qui ad sepeliendum hominem ferunt, sunt
Vitia & maligni spiritas, Hæretici & seductores. Hos enim nisi Dominus
sisteret, quoscunq; semel acciperent, sepulturæ & æternæ Damnationi
traderent. Suscitatus igitur Adolescens sedet, loquitur & Matri
redditur, quia ad Penitentiam conversus in Ecclesiæ pace quiescit, Dei
Magnalia loquitur, sua peccata confitetur; & Ecclesiæ reconciliatur.
_Euseb. Gallic. in Homil. Feriæ quinta post Domin. 4tam._

[301] _Et lacrymatus est Jesus._ Lacrymemur igitur & nos pro omnibus
illis, quos in Fætore Vitiorum jacere sentimus. _Euseb. Gallic. in
Homil. Feriæ 5ta post Domin. 4tam._

[302] Lapis autem revolutus a Monumento significat Infidelitatis
Duritiam ab Hominum Corde submotam. _Theop. Antioch. in Loc. Johan._

[303] Quod enim tunc temporis factum est in una Puella, hoc in sine
Temporum futurum est, ut fiat in tota Sonagoga. _In Homil. Feriæ 5ta
post Domin. 4tam._

[304] Synagoga circa finem sæculi erit restituta saluti. _In Loc. Matt._

[305] Jairus illuminatus vel illuminans, Moses intelligitur. _Bed._ in
_Loc. Mat._

[306] Ad hanc ergo Principis filiam dum properat Dei Verbum, ut salvos
faceret filios Isræl, sancta Ecclesia de Gentibus congregata, quæ
inferiorum Lapsu Criminium deperibat, paratam aliis fide præripuit
Sanitatem. _St. Ambros. in Loc. Luc._ Quod vero post restitutam
immundæ Mulieri Valetudinem, defuncta Puella a mortuis restituitur; ne
hoc quidem ab exquisita Allegoria alienum. Nam Reliquiæ salvæ fiant,
juxta Apostolum, cum ingressa fuerit Gentium Plenitudo. _Theop. Ceram.
in Homil. de Jairi filia._

[307] Quarum Rerum Causa multa fuere Jesu Miracula. _In Johan. Cap. XI._

[308] Per Lazarum Genus humanum ostenditur. _Theop. Antioch. in Loc.
Johan._ Nostra Resurrectio figuratur per Lazari
Resurrectionem.----Spelunca sive Sepulchrum Lazari Litteram Legis
umbratilem designat.----_Magna Voce clamavit Jesus_, id est,
Prædicatio Evangelii per quam humana Natura Peccatorum Vinculis & in
Sepulchro Infidelitatis jacens vocatur ad Vitam. _Theop Ceram. in
Homil. de Lazaro._

    BOOKS _written by Mr._ WOOLSTON, _and Sold by him next Door below
    the_, Star _in_ Aldermanbury, _and by the Booksellers of_ London
    _and_ Westminster.

I. The old Apology reviv'd, _&c._

II. Dissertatio de Pontii Pilati Epistola ad Tiberium circa Res Jesu
Christi gestas.

III. Origenis Adamantii Epistolæ duæ circa Fidem vere orthodoxam &
scripturarum Interpretationem.

IV. The exact Fitness of the Time of Christ's Advent. demonstrated by
Reason, against the Objections of the old Gentiles, and modern

V. Four Free-Gifts to the Clergy, or Challenges to a Disputation on
this Question, Whether the Hireling Priests of this Age, who are all
Ministers of the Letter, be not Worshippers of the Apocalyptical Beast
and Ministers of Anti-Christ.

VI. An Answer to the said four Free-Gifts.

VII. Two Letters to Dr. _Bennet_, on this question, Whether the People
call'd _Quakers_, do not the nearest of any other Sect in Religion,
resemble the Primitive Christians in Principle and Practice.

VIII. An Answer to the said two Letters.

IX. The Moderator between an Infidel and an Apostate: or the
Controversy between the _Grounds_ and his ecclesiastical Opponents,
set in a clear Light, _&c._

X. Two Supplements to the Moderator, _&c._

XI. A Defence of the Miracle of the _Thundering Legion_, against a
Dissertation of _Walter Moyle_ Esq.

XII. Five Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour.

                                A SIXTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR

               In View of the Present Controversy between
                 INFIDELS and APOSTATES.

                        _Jamque Opus exegi_,----

                          The SECOND EDITION.

                    By THO. WOOLSTON, B.D. sometime
               Fellow of _Sidney-College_ in _Cambridge_.

                Printed for the AUTHOR, and Sold by him
                  next Door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_, and
                  by the Booksellers of _London_ and _Westminster_.


                        [_Price One Shilling._]


                                 TO THE
                     Right Reverend Father in GOD,
                        Lord Bishop of _Oxford_.


When _the following_ Discourse _was finish'd and ready for the_ Press,
_I consider'd to what_ Bishop _the_ Dedication _of it would be most
acceptable_ (_for I am resolv'd that none but_ Bishops _as yet shall
have the Honour of my_ Dedications) _and I had not long ponder'd upon
the Matter, before I hit upon your_ Lordship, _who must needs be
pleas'd with this_ Discourse, _because of the Advantage, that you, as
well as my self, in the End, will reap by it_.

BY _Virtue of your_ Professorship _at_ Oxford, _you_, my Lord, _are a_
Moderator _at theological Disputations, as I am here: And whether the
Execution of your Office be as troublesome as mine is, I know not: But
if the Design of this_ Discourse _takes Place, we shall find that
modern Controversies about Religion are all vain; and thereupon be_
both _of us soon eas'd of the Trouble of our_ Moderations _at them_.

IT _may be_, my Lord, _you are not so weary of your_ Moderatorship,
_as I am: Besides, that you are better paid for your Pains, your
Disputants are more amicable, and, in the midst of their Disputes,
more tractable: Tho' they may warmly contend, at the present, for and
against the Point in Debate; yet like_ Lawyers _who are no less
zealous for their_ Clients _in the Day, they commonly agree to drink a
Bottle together at Night, and go to Bed, good Friends. And this is
very well done of them._

BUT _my Disputants_, my Lord, _call'd_ Infidels _and_ Apostates, _at
whose Controversy I have the Trouble, by the Appointment of the
Fathers, to preside, are more stubborn, turbulent and refractory. What
ill Treatment they would give each other, if it was in their Power, I
know not: But my_ Apostates, _since they can't be aveng'd on their
Adversaries, are full of Resentment against their_ Moderator, _because
I am not altogether partial to their Side; and how I shall escape
their Indignation, God alone knows_.

WHATEVER _the_ Clergy, my Lord, _whom I dignify with the Title of_
Apostates, _may think, I look upon my self as a notable_ Moderator
_of the Controversy; I have shewn them all the Favour I can in it, and
would have brought them off with Honour, but for a_ little Flaw, _here
discover'd, in the Foundation of their Church, which, for the
Determination of our Disputes, must be confess'd and granted_.

IF _your_ Lordship, _upon reading this_ Discourse, _should be of the
same Mind with me, I beg of you to stroak the_ Clergy _into Temper,
Patience and Compliance: Tell them, they have been long orthodox and
glorious Victors over_ Infidels, _and that it would be now an Act of
Generosity to yield to them in a_ small Point; _upon which such a
Pacification would ensue, as nothing hereafter would be able to

BUT _I have another Favour_, my Lord, _here to crave of you_, viz.
_that you would be pleas'd to persuade my old Friend, the_ Bishop _of_
London, _to stay at Home this_ Lent, _and keep to his_ Prayers _and_
Fasting, _for the casting out a certain_ Kind _of ----, that by Fits
he's unhapily troubled with; or upon the Publication of this_
Discourse, _I shall be in Danger of being soon knapp'd for it_.

IF _your_ Lordship _will do me that Favour, then I will do you as good
a Turn; and praise you for your Doctrine of_ Passive Obedience,
_preach'd at the_ Coronation: _Tho' many may laugh at your Revival of
that Doctrine, saying the_ Clergy _upon an Occasion, which our most
excellent_ Sovereign _will never give them, would again have Recourse
to their_ Reserves _and_ Distinctions; _yet I say it was well done of
your_ Lordship _to preach it, that the Tongues and the Hands (to say
nothing of the Hearts) of the_ Clergy _might go together in
Subscriptions to_ Articles _and_ Homilies; _and so avoid that
Prevarication and Inconsistency, which some now have no more Wit than
to charge them with_.

SO _not questioning your_ Lordship's _Approbation of this_ Discourse
_and the_ Dedication; _nor doubting but you'll make me as bountiful a
Recompence for it, as any of my other Episcopal Patrons have done; I
subscribe my self_,

[Sidenote: _Feb. 15th 1728-9_]

  My Lord,
    The Admirer of your
      Passive Obedience Sermon,
     _Thomas Woolston_.


                                A SIXTH
                                 ON THE
                                 OF OUR
                             _SAVIOUR_, &c.

Here goes my sixth and last _Discourse_ on _Jesus_'s _Miracles_; the
Subject whereof is the literal Story of his own Resurrection; which,
according to the Proposition in Hand, I am to shew to consist of
Absurdities, Improbabilities and Incredibilities. And I hope our
_Bishops_ will quietly permit the Publication of this _Discourse_,
especially if I assure them that I mean nothing worse by it, than to
make way for the understanding what the Fathers write of the mystical
Resurrection of _Jesus_ out of the Grave of the Letter of the Law and
the Prophets; of which mystical Resurrection of our _spiritual Jesus_,
the Evangelical Story of the Resurrection of a _carnal Christ_ is but
mere Type and Shadow.

I am so far from designing any Service to Infidelity by this
_Discourse_, that I aim at the Accomplishment of some of St. _John_'s
Apocalyptical Visions. The Fathers say that a _Church_, built on the
Letter of the Scriptures, particularly on the Letter of _Jesus_'s
Miracles, is _Babylon_; and that antiliteral Arguments and mystical
Interpretations will be the Downfal of her. Whether there is any Truth
in this Opinion of the Fathers, I am minded to make the Experiment;
and tho' I should bring the old House of the Church over my Head, and
be crush'd to Pieces in its Ruins, I can't forbear it: But however, I
would advise the _Clergy_ to make Haste and _come out of Babylon_, for
Fear of the worst; or they, who upon the Authority of the Fathers are
_the Merchants of Babylon_, will _weep_[309] _and mourn_ upon her
Fall, because _none will buy their Merchandize_ of the Letter _any
more_. Dear _Jesu_, that such a _Student_ as I am in the _Revelations_
of St. _John_, and an Interpreter of them too, upon the Authority of
the Fathers, should be charg'd with Blasphemy and Infidelity!

So to Work I went; and I had not been long musing by myself, how to
sap this Foundation of the Church, before I was sensible of my own
Insufficiency for it. Whereupon I sent to my old Friend, the _Jewish
Rabbi_, for his Thoughts on this grand Miracle of _Jesus_'s
Resurrection, which he gave me some Promise of. But I desired him to
forbear all Ludicrousness, Satire and Banter, for fear of Offence: For
tho' our _Clergy_ liked Volumes of Jests and Facetiousness, if they
were discharg'd against _Jews_, _Turks_, and _Infidels_; yet when they
were levell'd at _Ministers_ of the _Letter_, the _Case was alter'd_,
as quoth _Plowden_, and they were not to be borne with. Therefore he
was to remember that Decency, Seriousness and Calmness of Argument,
required by the _Bishop_ of _London_[310] or I durst not print it.

In Compliance with my Desires he sent me the following _Letter_,
which, having purg'd it of a few _Puns_ and _Cunundrums_, because all
Appearance of _Wit_, as of _Evil_, was to be abstain'd from, I here
publish, and it runs thus.


According to your Request, I here send you my Thoughts on _Jesus_'s
Resurrection, in which I shall be shorter than I would be, because of
the customary Bounds of your _Discourses_.

The Controversy between us _Jews_ and you _Christians_ about the
_Messiah_ has hitherto been of a diffusive Nature: But as the Subject of
_this_ is the Resurrection of your _Jesus_; so, by my Consent, we'll now
reduce the Controversy to a narrow Compass, and let it turn intirely on
this grand Miracle and Article of your Faith. If your _Divines_ can
prove _Jesus_'s Resurrection against the following Objections, then I
will acknowledge him to be the _Messiah_, and will turn Christian,
otherwise he must still pass with us for an Impostor and false Prophet.

I have often lamented the Loss of such Writings, which our _Ancestors_
unquestionably dispers'd against _Jesus_, because of the clear Sight
they would give us, into the Cheat and Imposture of his Religion. But
I rejoice and thank God, there is little or no Want of them, to the
Point in Hand. For I had not long meditated on the Story of _Jesus_'s
Resurrection, as your _Evangelists_ have related it, but I plainly
discern'd it to be the most notorious and monstrous Imposture, that
ever was put upon Mankind. And if you please to attend to my following
Arguments, which require no Depth of Judgment and Capacity to
apprehend, I am persuaded that you and every one disinterested, will
be of the same Mind too.

To overthrow and confute the Story of this monstrous and incredible
Miracle, I was thinking once to premise an Argument of the Justice of
the Sentence denounc'd against and executed upon _Jesus_, who was so
far from being the innocent Person, you Christians would make of him,
that, as may easily be proved, he was so grand a _Deceiver_,
_Impostor_ and _Malefactor_, as no Punishment could be too great for
him. But this Argument (which I reserve against a Day of perfect
Liberty, to publish by it self in Defence of the Honour and Justice of
our _Ancestors_) would be too long for the Compass of this Letter; and
therefore I pass it by, tho' it would give Force to my following
Objections; it being hard and even impossible to imagine, that God
would vouchsafe the Favour of a miraculous Resurrection to one, who
for his Crimes deservedly suffer'd and underwent Death.

But waving, I say, that Argument for the present, which of itself
would be enough to prejudice a reasonable Man against the Belief of
_Jesus_'s Resurrection; I will allow _Jesus_ to have been a much
better Man, than I believe him to have been; or as good a one in
Morals as your _Divines_ do suppose him; and will only consider the
Circumstances of the Evangelical Story of his Resurrection; from
which, if I don't prove it to have been the most bare-fac'd Imposture
that ever was put upon the World, I deserve for the Vanity of this
Attempt, a much worse Punishment, than he for his Frauds endured.

I have sometimes wonder'd, considering the Nature and Heinousness of
_Jesus_'s Faults, for which he dy'd, that our _Chief Priests_ and
_Pharisees_ had any Regard to his Prediction (which was so like a
Bambouzlement of the Populace) that he was to rise again the _third Day_
after his Crucifixion. There's no other Nation in the World, which would
not have slighted such a vain Prognostication of a known Impostor. Let
him foretell with ever so much Confidence his speedy Return to Life, I
dare say, any other Magistrates of ordinary Prudence would have despised
him for a presumptuous _Enthusiast_: But, when I reflected on the
Imposture of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, and of what pernicious
Consequence it had like to have proved to the Peace and Welfare of our
Nation, if it had not been happily discover'd, my Wonder here ceas'd;
and I as much admire now the Wisdom, Caution and Circumspection of our
_Chief Priests_ against all possible Fraud and Deceit in the foretold
Resurrection of _Jesus_. Tho' _Jesus_ himself, the Head of the
Confederacy, and prime Projector of the design'd Cheat in the Case of
_Lazarus_ was cut off, yet his Associates were still numerous; and it
was not impossible, but they might concert a Project of a counterfeited
Resurrection of him, in Accomplishment of his Prophecy, that might be of
more fatal Consequence, and tend to such Confusions and Distractions
among the People, as would not be soon quell'd and quieted. Whereupon
our _Chief Priests_ very prudently consider of Precautions against Cheat
here, and wisely make Application to _Pilate_ the _Governour_, that
proper and effectual Measures may be taken against a false and feign'd
Resurrection, for Fear of the ill Effects of it. And one of them, as
the _Spokesman_ of their Company, seems, according to _Matthew_, Ch.
xxviii. to have made the Speech following.

    _SIR_, "We remember that this Deceiver and Impostor _Jesus_, who
    was yesterday crucified, and justly suffer'd Death for his
    Blasphemy and many Delusions of the People (that were of bad
    Consequence, and might have been of much worse, if he had not been
    timely brought to condign Punishment) said repeatedly before, that
    notwithstanding the Death he was to undergo he should rise again
    to Life the _third Day_ after. It is not that we are at all
    apprehensive of such a wonderful and miraculous Event, which
    knowing him to have been a false Prophet as well as a deceitful
    Juggler, we have no Fears nor Belief of. But as it is not long
    since, that the Inhabitants in and about _Bethany_ had like to
    have been fatally deluded and imposed on by him, in the pretended
    Resuscitation of _Lazarus_, one of his Disciples and Confederates
    in Iniquity; so it is not altogether impossible nor improbable but
    his Disciples and Accomplices, who are many, may project a feign'd
    Resurrection of _Jesus_ (in Accomplishment of his Prediction) by
    stealing his Body away, and pretending he is risen from the dead.
    Should such a Sham-Miracle be contrived amongst them, and
    cunningly executed, it would be πλανη (_not an Error but_) an
    Imposture of worse Consequence to our Nation and Religion, than
    the former in _Lazarus_ could have been, if it had never been
    detected: We crave therefore the Favour of your _Excellency_, to
    give Command for the making his Sepulchre sure, till the _third_
    Day is past, that neither his _dead_ Body may be taken away, and a
    Resurrection pretended; nor a _living_ one slipt into its Place,
    and a Miracle counterfeited on that Day, when we will be present
    at the opening of the Sepulchre, and give Satisfaction to the
    People of his being a false Prophet."

Whether _Pilate_ was at all intent on the Prevention of Fraud in this
Case, or would not willingly have connived at it, to increase the
Divisions and Distractions of our then unhappy Nation, may be
question'd: But the Request of our _Chief Priests_ was so reasonable,
and their Importunities so urgent, that he could not resist them; and
therefore order'd them a _Watch_ for the Sepulchre, which they might
make as sure, as they could, against Fraud and Imposture, till the
_third Day_.

Whereupon our _Chief Priests_ deliberate, what Measures were fittest
to be taken to this Purpose. And as I can't, and don't believe any Man
else can, devise any better for the Security of the Sepulchre against
Fraud, than what they took; so I admire and applaud their Prudence,
Circumspection, and Precaution in the Case. They _seal'd the Stone_ at
the Mouth of the Sepulchre, and placed a Guard of Soldiers about it;
which were _Two_ such certain Means for the Prevention or Detection of
Cheat in a Resurrection, as are not to be equall'd by any other.

They _seal'd the Stone_ of the Sepulchre, which, tho' it was no Security
at all against Violence, yet was an absolute one against Fraud. How the
_Stone_ which fitted the Mouth of the Sepulchre, as a Door does the
Entrance into a Room, was seal'd, I need not describe. The Use and
Manner of sealing the Doors of Closets, of Chests, and of Papers is
common; and as it is an obvious Expedient, for the Satisfaction of the
Signators, against Deceit; so it has been an antient as well as a modern
Practice. _Darius_, King of _Babylon_,[311] seal'd the Door of the Den
of Lions, wherein _Daniel_ was cast, with his own Signet: And wherefore
did he so? For the Satisfaction of himself and of his Courtiers, when he
came again to open and compare the Signature with his Signet, that no
Art nor Artifice had been used for the Preservation of _Daniel_. So our
_Chief Priests_ seal'd the Stone of _Jesus_'s Sepulchre, which they
design'd to be present at the opening of, on the _third Day_, the Time
appointed by _Jesus_ for his Resurrection, and then give ample
Satisfaction to the People, that there was a real, or could be no
Resurrection of his Body. Wherefore else did they _seal_ the Stone of
his Sepulchre?

Your _Grotius_[312] thinks, that _Pilate_'s Seal was affix'd to the
Stone of the Sepulchre; but, as I believe, _Pilate_ little concern'd
himself about the Prevention of Deceit here; so I much question it. It
is more reasonable to think that the _Chief Priests_ and other Civil
Magistrates of _Jerusalem_ with their several Seals, which could not
be open'd, but by themselves, without Suspicion of Fraud, sign'd the
Stone, and intended to be present, on the Day appointed, at the
opening of the Sepulchre; not doubting, what no body could question,
but _Jesus_ would wait their coming, and arise to Life, if he could,
in the Sight of themselves, and of a vast Concourse of People, that
were sure to attend on them to behold the Miracle. Such a Resurrection
would have been of Satisfaction to the whole Nation; and such a
Resurrection, reasonably speaking, _Jesus_ would, if he could, have
vouchsafed in Accommodation to the _sealing_ of the _Stone_.

But, notwithstanding this Precaution, in sealing of the Stone, the
best that could be taken against Fraud, _Jesus_'s Body was privately
slipt off, early in the Morning of the Day before, and a Resurrection
pretended by his Disciples; and you would have us and our Ancestors to
believe, there was no Deceit in the Case; tho' confessedly none of the
_Sealers_ of the Sepulchre were present: Who can believe it? Was, or
can there be, any Imposture more against Sense and Reason palm'd upon
the Understandings of Mankind? If there had been a real Resurrection,
the _Sealers_ of the _Stone_ would have been the _Openers_ of the
Sepulchre; wherefore else was the _Stone seal'd_?

A Question, that here arises, is, On what Day, and what Time of the Day,
did our _Chief Priests_, the Sealers of the Stone, expect, what they
could not think would ever come to pass, _Jesus_'s Resurrection? Or what
was the Extent of the Time meant by _Jesus_, when he said that after
_three Days_, or on the _third Day_ after his Passion, he should rise
again? If any Impostor or Prophet like _Jesus_ should in this Age so
predict his Resurrection, and be executed on _Friday_, the Day for his
Resurrection would be presumed to be _Monday_, and not _Sunday_ Morning
before Day. And I humbly conceive former Ages and Nations, and our
Nation in particular did compute after this Fashion. Accordingly on
_Monday_ our _Chief Priests_ I don't doubt, intended to be present at
the opening of the Seals of the Sepulchre, and to behold the Miracle:
But _Jesus_'s Body was clandestinely moved off early on _Sunday_ (the
Day before _that_ signified and predicted for his Resurrection) to the
Laughter more than the Surprize of our Ancestors, at the Notoriety of
the Fraud committed, and at the Vanity of a Resurrection pretended upon
it. And I may appeal even to your _Chief Priests_ of the Church,
whether here's not another Note of Cheat and Imposture; and whether the
Disciples were not afraid to trust _Jesus_'s Body, its full time, in the
Grave; because of the greater Difficulty to carry it off afterwards, and
pretend a Resurrection upon it.

But because your _Divines_ (who have singular Knacks at making two
Nights and a full Day, that _Jesus_ was buried, to be _three Days_ and
_three Nights_; and whose various Ways of Computation I always smile
at) do assert that _Sunday_ was the _third Day_, on which, in
Accomplishment of _Jonah_'s Prophecy, and of his Own Prediction, he
was to rise again; I will suppose so with them, and will, if they
please, grant that our _Chief Priests_, and the _Sealers_ of the
Sepulchre, expected his Resurrection on that Day, and intended, for
the opening of the Seals, to be present at it.

But at what Time of the Day were they to come or could be expected at
the Sepulchre? Not long before Noon. But _Jesus_'s Body was gone
betimes in the Morning, before our _Chief Priests_ could be out of
their Beds; and a barefac'd Infringment of the Seals of the Sepulchre
was made against the Laws of Honour and Honesty, and a Resurrection
confidently talk'd of by the Disciples; and yet your Christian
Priesthood at this Day would have us to believe, there was no Fraud
and Deceit in all this! O most monstrous!

If our _Chief Priests_ had trespass'd upon _Jesus_'s Patience, and
would not attend at the Sepulchre for the opening of the Seals, on the
Day and Time appointed; if they had been for confining him longer in
the Grave than was meet, according to Prophecy, then his Resurrection,
without their Presence, had been excusable and justifiable. But this
his pretended Rising to Life, not only a Day before the _Chief
Priests_ could imagine he would, or earlier in the Morning than he
should, for the Sake of their requisite Presence, is, together with
the Fracture of the Seals against the Law of Security, such a manifest
and indisputable Mark and Indication of Fraud, as is not to be
equall'd in all or any of the Impostures, that ever were attempted to
be put upon the World.

In short, by the sealing of the Stone of the Sepulchre, we are to
understand nothing less than a Covenant enter'd into between our _Chief
Priests_ and the _Apostles_, by which _Jesus_'s Veracity, Power and
_Messiahship_ was to be try'd. Tho' we read not of the Apostles giving
their Consent to the Covenant, yet it was reasonably presum'd and could
not have been refus'd, if ask'd. The Condition of the seal'd Covenant
was, that if _Jesus_ arose from the dead in the Presence of our _Chief
Priests_, upon their opening the Seals of the Sepulchre, at the Time
appointed; then was he to be acknowledg'd to be the _Messiah_: But if he
continued in a corrupt and putrified State of Mortality, then was he to
be granted to be an _Impostor_: Very wisely and rightly agreed! And if
the Apostles had stood to this Covenant, Christianity had been nipt in
its Bud, and suppress'd in its Birth. But they had other Views, and
another Game to play at all Adventures. The Body was to be removed and a
Resurrection pretended, to the Delusion, if possible, of all Mankind, in
which they have been more successful than could be imagin'd upon a
Project that had so little Sense or Reason, so little Colour of Truth or
Artifice in the Contrivance and Execution of it. Our _Chief Priests_
were apprehensive at first of their stealing the Body away, and
pretending a Resurrection: But after the _sealing_ of the _Stone_, those
Fears vanish'd; because upon the stealing the Body, away against such
Security and Precaution, the Fraud would be self-evident, and want no
Demonstration and Proof of it. But, for all this Precaution, I say, the
Body was in a barefaced Manner taken away, a Resurrection talk'd of, and
to the Amazement of every one, who can think freely, has been believed
thro' all Ages of the Church since. Upon the whole then, I think, you
may as well say, when a seal'd Closet is broken open, and the Treasure
gone without the Privity of the Signators, that there's no Wrong done;
as that in the Resurrection of _Jesus_, there was no Fraud. The Cases
are equal and parallel. What then can your Christian _Priests_ say to
this demonstrative Argument of a manifest and bare-faced Cheat in
_Jesus_'s Resurrection? I have been thinking, what they will or can say;
and upon the maturest Consideration I don't find they can make any other
than one or more of these shuffling Answers to it, _viz._

1. That it was impossible for the Disciples to steal the Body of
_Jesus_ away, because of the Watchfulness of the Guards, and therefore
there was a real Resurrection, tho' the _Chief Priests_ and _Sealers_
of the Sepulchre were not present at it.

2. That, tho' the _Chief Priests_ and _Sealers_ of the Stone of the
Sepulchre were not present, as I say they ought to have been, to
behold the Miracle; yet his Resurrection was afterwards made as
manifest to them, as if they had been there present.

3. That if _Jesus_ did not really arise from the dead, the Belief of
his Resurrection could never have been so propagated at first, nor
would have been retain'd in the World for so many Ages since.

I can think of no other Answers, and believe it impossible for your
Christian _Priests_ to form any other, to the foresaid Argument of
Fraud in _Jesus_'s Resurrection: But how weak, frivolous and
insufficient they all and every one are, will appear upon a little
Examination into them.

1. Then, against the aforesaid demonstrative Argument of Fraud, it may
be pretended, _That it was impossible for the Disciples to steal the
Body of_ Jesus _away, because of the Watchfulness of the Guards; and
therefore there was a real Resurrection, tho' the_ Chief Priests,
_the_ Sealers _of the Sepulchre were not present at it_.

To which I reply, and confess, that if it was impossible to evade the
Guards of the Sepulchre, then there was a real Resurrection; but if
there was but a bare Possibility of evading them, then this Answer is
of no Force. And I am of Opinion, that the Thing was not only
possible, but easy, feasible, and practicable. Tho' the _Roman_
Soldiers were of as much Fidelity and Integrity as any of their
Profession; yet it is well known, that such Creatures are subject to
Bribery and Corruption, if the Disciples had any Money to tempt them
with: Or if their Faithfulness to their Trust was untainted; yet it is
not improbable, but their Officers, at the Direction of _Pilate_, who
found his Account in the Distractions of our Nation, might give them
the Hint to wink hard at the Commission of such a Fraud. But not to
insist on either of these Ways to evade the _Watch_; our Ancestors
said, what your _Evangelist_ has recorded, that the Disciples taking
the Opportunity of the Sleep of the Guards, carry'd the Body of
_Jesus_ off; which was a thing both possible and probable.

Of what Number the _Watch_ did consist is uncertain. Your _Whitby_[313]
says they were _sixty_; but he has no Reason nor Authority to think,
they were so many. If they had been to be a Guard against Violence, I
could easily have believed they were more; but in as much as they were
only a _Watch_ against Fraud, and against any casual defacing of the
_Seals_ on the Stone, before the _Chief Priests_ came to open the
Sepulchre, _three_ or _four_ Soldiers were sufficient, and I don't
think, there were any more set to this Purpose.

It is not then at all improbable, that so few Soldiers should be fast
asleep at that time of Night, or so early in the Morning, when the
clandestine Work was done; especially after keeping such a _Gaudy-day_
as was the Feast of the Passover, which, like the Festivals of other
Nations, was celebrated with Excess. Foot Soldiers then, you may be
sure, upon the Bounty of one or other, did no more want, than they
would scruple to take their _Fill_, which like an Opiat, lock'd up
their Senses for that Night, when the Disciples, being aware of the
lucky Opportunity, carry'd the Body of _Jesus_ off safely.

And where's the Absurdity to suppose, that the Disciples themselves
might contrive the Intoxication of the Guards? _Herodotus_ tells us a
Story of a Deadbody's being stolen away by such an Artifice. And I
don't think the Disciples of _Jesus_ either so foolish or
conscientious, as not to take the Hint, and enterprize the like Fraud.
_Peter_, who, upon Occasion, could _swear_ and _curse_ like a
_Trooper_, would hardly scruple to fuddle a few _Foot-Soldiers_. But
which way soever it came to pass, the Watch were asleep, which is
neither hard to conceive nor believe; and then the Disciples executed
_that_ Fraud, which has been the Delusion of Nations and Ages since.

Your _Evangelists_ would hint that the _Chief Priests_ gave Money to
the Soldiers to say, they were asleep, when the Disciples stole the
Body of _Jesus_ away, as if they were brib'd to a false Testimony; but
there neither was nor could be any such thing. If there had been a
real Resurrection to their Astonishment and Amazement, as it is
represented in your Gospels, no Money could so soon have corrupted
them to a false Witness, being under such Fears of God and of _Jesus_.
I don't doubt but our _Chief Priests_ might reward the Soldiers for
speaking the Truth, and exhort them to persist in it, with a Promise
to _secure_ them against the Anger of _Pilate_ for their sleeping and
Neglect of their Duty.

Here then is no _Answer_ to the foresaid Argument or Objection against
_Jesus_'s Resurrection. It was not at all impossible for the
Disciples, who stole the Body away, to avoid the Guards, who were and
may reasonably be supposed to be lull'd asleep, when the Disciples did
it. Neither is there any more Force in the

2. Second Answer to it, _viz. That tho' the Chief Priests, the Sealers
of the Stone of the Sepulchre, were not present, opening the Seals and
beholding the Miracle; yet his Resurrection was afterwards made as
manifest to them, as if they had been there present_.

Ay, this is somewhat like an Answer, if there be any Truth in it. A
Manifestation of _Christ risen_ afterwards to our _Chief Priests_ would
have been equivalent to their Presence at and Sight of the Miracle. But
how was his Resurrection manifested to them? did _Jesus_ ever afterwards
appear personally to them, to their Satisfaction, that he was the same
Person, whom they crucified and put to Death for a Deceiver and false
Prophet? No; this is not once affected by your _Evangelists_ or ever
insinuated by any antient or modern Writer. How then was _Jesus_'s
Resurrection made manifest to our Chief Priests? Why; your _Divines_
say, what is all that can be said here, that the Words of the Disciples,
who, being Men of Honesty, Simplicity and Integrity, would not lye, are
to be taken for it. Very fine, indeed! our Chief Priests are to take the
Words of the Disciples for _Jesus_'s Resurrection, and look upon them as
Men of Veracity, when they knew and experienc'd them to be grand Cheats,
not only in stealing the Body of _Jesus_ away, but in the _known
Imposture_ of _Lazarus_'s Resurrection, or your _Evangelist_ had never
implicitly called it so. When therefore Deceivers will not be _Lyars_;
nor Thieves _Dissemblers_ of the Fact they are accused of, I will own
_Jesus_'s Resurrection to have been manifest enough to our _Chief
Priests_. There's no need of more Argument here: He that bellows more
Words on it, loses Time.

It has been a constant Objection of us _Jews_, against the
Resurrection of _Jesus_, that he appear'd not personally afterwards to
our _Chief Priests_, to _Pilate_ and to others his Crucifiers and
Insultors, to upbraid them with their Infidelity and ill Treatment of
him. Whether _Jesus_ would not have done so, if he really arose from
the dead; and whether he ought not in Reason, for the Conviction and
Conversion of Unbelievers, to have done so, with me is no Question.
_Celsus_ of old[314] in the Name of the _Jews_ made the Objection; and
_Olibio_, a late _Rabbi_[315] has repeated it. But in all my Reading
and Conversation with Men or Books, I never met with a tolerable
Answer to it. _Origen_ and _Limborch_, the Writers against _Celsus_
and _Olibio_, gently slide over the Objection, as if it was too hot or
weighty to be touch'd and handled by them. To recite the poor, short
and insufficient Answers of those two Great Authors, to the Objection,
would be the Exposing of them, and giving such Strength to the
Objection, which it don't want. Therefore I will leave the Objection,
which _Origen_[316] owns to be a considerable one, to the Meditation
of your modern Advocates for Christianity; and when they can prove,
that _Jesus_, after his Resurrection did personally appear to his
Crucifiers, the _Chief Priests_ and _Sealers_ of the Sepulchre, to
their Confutation; or that, according to the Law of Reason, he ought
not to have appear'd to them, then I will turn _Christian_, and grant,
that in the Argument above, which proves plain Fraud in the
Resurrection, there's no Force nor Truth. In the mean time _Jesus_'s
Non-Appearance to the _Chief Priests_ is a Confirmation, that he did
not arise from the Dead, but that his Body was stolen away, or he
would have waited in the Grave, the coming of the Sealers of the
Stone, and their regular opening of the Sepulchre, to the Conviction
and Conversion of all there present, and Confirmation of the Faith of
all Ages and Nations since. But,

3. A third Answer to the foresaid Argument of Fraud in the Resurrection
of _Jesus_, drawn from the Nature, Use and Design of sealing the Stone
of the Sepulchre, is, _that tho' the_ Sealers _of the Sepulchre were not
present, opening the Seals and beholding the Miracle; yet_ Jesus _did
certainly arise from the Dead, or the Belief of his Resurrection could
never have been at first propagated by the Apostles, nor would for so
many Ages of the Church since have stood its Ground_.

Here's as little Reason in this Answer as in either of the two former.
Who knows not, that many Errors in Philosophy, and as many Frauds in
Religion have been sometimes accidentally, sometimes designedly
espoused and palm'd upon Mankind, who in Process of Time become so
wedded to them thro' Prejudice and Interest, that they will not give
themselves Leave to enquire into the Rise and Foundation of them.
False Miracles have been common Things among Christians; and as the
Resurrection of _Jesus_ is their grand and fundamental one, so it is
not at all difficult to account for the Rise, Propagation and
Continuance of the Belief of it.

Why it has been believed thro' these latter Ages of the Church, is no
Wonder at all. The Priests had their Interest in it; the ignorant and
superstitious had their Comfort in it; and the wise and considerate,
for fear of Persecution, durst not enquire into the Grounds of it.

The only Difficulty here is to know, upon what Principle, the Project
and Story of _Jesus_'s Resurrection was at first devised. And whether
it was Ambition or Revenge upon our ancient and Pharisaical
Priesthood, that prompted the Apostles to it, is all one to me. Such
bad Principles too often put Men upon desperate Attempts. But
however, an Imposture it was, for the Argument above. To say the
Apostles and Confederates in the Fraud, would not have stood to it,
and have dy'd for it, if the Resurrection had not been real Fact,
signifies nothing. Many Cheats and Criminals, besides them, have
asserted their Innocencey, and deny'd their Guilt in the utmost
Extremity of Death, without the like Views of Honour and Fame. The
only Thing that's surprizing and astonishing in this Sham-Miracle, is,
that tho' it was the most manifest, the most bare-faced, and the most
self-evident Imposture that ever was put upon the World; yet it has
been the most fortunate and successful, having past thro' many Ages
and Nations with Reputation and Renown; and might have continued for
as many Generations to come, but for the Argument above, that
perfectly and clearly overthrows its Credit.

But some may say here, where was the Wisdom and Providence of God, all
this while, to suffer so many Ages and Nations to labour under such a
Delusion? Why, I'll tell you; The Providence of God in it was, "To
humble Mankind, in the End, for their vain Ostentation of Wisdom,
Learning and _Science falsly so call'd_; "To shame them for their
Madness and Wickedness to persecute one another for different Opinions
in that Religion, whose very Foundation is false and groundless; "To
caution them against a blind and implicit Faith for the future;
against believing any thing out of the Sight and Reach of their
Understandings; "To admonish them of the Necessity of Liberty to
think, speak and write freely about Religion, for the Correction of
Errors and Discovery of Truth; and, lastly, "To reduce the World, when
it should be ripe for it, to the golden Religion of Nature, which upon
the Testimony of our old _Cabalistical_ Doctors, and of your _Jesus_
himself, is the _End of the Law and the Prophets_.

And thus have I spoken to the _Answers_, which your _Christian
Priesthood_ may be presumed to make, to the foresaid Argument of Fraud
in _Jesus_'s Resurrection, drawn from the Design of our _Chief
Priests_ in sealing of the Stone of his Sepulchre. I should not have
concern'd my self to speak to these their supposed _Answers_, but to
save them the Trouble of making them, and the Imagination of there
being some Force in them.

As to the Stories in your _Evangelists_ of _Jesus_'s several Appearances
after his pretended Resurrection, sometimes to the Women, and at other
Times to his Disciples, I am not at all obliged to refute them. If these
Appearances had been more frequent, better circumstanced, and more
solemnly averr'd, they would have wanted no Confutation. There's no
Doubt on't, but the Disciples, who, for the Argument above,
unquestionably stole _Jesus_'s Body away, in order to pretend a
Resurrection, would talk much of his appearing to them, and of the
Conversation afterwards, they had with him. And if they had told better
and more plausible Tales of their Sight of and Conversation with him, it
would be nothing to the Purpose; _better_, I say, _and more plausible
Tales_ than those upon Record, which for Absurdity, Nonsense and
Incoherence carry their own Confutation along with them.

Whoever blends together the various History of the four _Evangelists_,
as to _Jesus_'s Appearances after his Resurrection, will find himself,
not only perplex'd how to make an intelligible, consistent, and
sensible Story of it; but must, with _Celsus_[317] needs think it, if
he closely think on't, like some of the confused and incredible
womanish Fables of the Apparitions of the Ghosts of deceased Persons,
which the Christian World in particular has in former Ages abounded
with. The Ghosts of the Dead in this present Age, and especially in
this Protestant Country, have ceas'd to appear; and we now-a-days
hardly ever hear of such an Apparition: And what is the Reason of it?
Why, the Belief of these Stories being banish'd out of Mens Minds, the
crafty and vaporous forbear to trump them upon us. There has been so
much clear Proof of the Fraud in many of these Stories, that the wise
and considerate Part of Mankind has rejected them all, excepting
_this_ of _Jesus_, which, to Admiration, has stood its Ground. It's no
Wonder indeed, that the _Clergy_, who are more incredulous than other
Folks as to Stories of Apparitions, do stick to _this_ of _Jesus_, the
only one excepted out of all others. It is a sweet Morsel of Faith,
and they readily swallow and digest it, because they live by it;
otherwise this Story of _Jesus_'s Appearances after Death had hardly
escaped the Fate of other Apparitions; nay, would have been rejected
one of the first of them; there being hardly one, I dare say it, among
all the Stories of Apparitions, were they to be collected together;
that's more absurd and incredible than _this_ of _Jesus_.

I have not Room here to make any Remarks on your Evangelical Story of
_Jesus_'s Apparitions after his Death; and if I had, I durst not do it,
for fear of an offensive Ludicrousness, and of transgressing the Rules
of _Decency_, _Sobriety_ and _Sedateness_ of Argument, you have confined
me to. But however; I can't read the Story without smiling, and there
are two or three Passages in it, that put me in Mind of _Robinson
Cruso_'s filling his Pockets with Biskets, when he had neither Coat,
Waste-coat, nor Breeches on. Sometimes I think your _Evangelists_ wanted
Wit to adapt their Tale to Sense, and to accommodate the Transaction to
Nature; and sometimes I think them crafty, and were minded, like _Daniel
de Foe_ in his aforesaid _Romance_, to put the Banter upon the Credulity
of Mankind, with some disguised and latent Absurdities, that, in the
Conclusion and Discovery, they might be heartily laugh'd at for the
Belief of them. I dare not, I say, so much as hint at one of these
Absurdities, lest I should be unwarily tempted to crack a Jest on it.
But the Time, I hope, is coming, when I shall use more Freedom. And
should your Priesthood, in Proof of _Jesus_'s Resurrection, urge any of
these Stories of his corporal Presence and Appearance after it, then I
trust, they'll permit me to make as merry Descants on them, as your
_Bishops_, when Academical _Jesters_, used to do on other Men's Bulls
and Blunders.

In the mean time I depend on the foregoing single, sober and sedate
Argument of Fraud in this grand Miracle, which I found on the Nature
and Design of sealing the Sepulchre; and for Confirmation of my
Opinion and Proof of Fraud in it, will conclude this Letter with a
parallel Case and Story. Not many Years since, one Dr. _Emms_, of the
Society of the _French_ Prophets, who in their Inspirations were, like
_Jesus_ and his Disciples of old, Declaimers against the Pharisaical
Priesthood of this Age, did by himself, or some of his Fraternity did
for him, predict his Resurrection on a certain Day, when there was a
Concourse of People about his Grave in vain to behold the Miracle, as
there would have been about _Jesus_'s Sepulchre, if he had lain in it,
his full Time. But supposing in this Case, that the Magistrates and
Priesthood of this City, to prevent a Cheat and Delusion of the
People, had interr'd the _Doctor_ in a Church-Vault, and seal'd the
Door of it against the Day appointed for his Resurrection, commanding
a _Night-Watch_ to look to the Vault, that no Violence or Deceit be
used: This would have been a wise Precaution against Fraud, as was in
the Case of _Jesus_. But what if his Fraternity, having a Mind, like
_Jesus_'s Disciples, to bambouzle the People and Priesthood, had, some
of them drawn the Watch aside to a _Gin-shop_, whilst others carry'd
the Body off, pretending a Resurrection? What would all reasonable Men
have said here? That it was an impudent and bare-fac'd Imposture. But
to carry on the Farce; supposing, the _Doctor_'s Fraternity had
afterwards averr'd that they had seen and convers'd with him alive,
several Times, as before his Death; and had told particular Stories of
their Conversation with him; as _first_ of all, how he appear'd to
some of their Women (who were admonish'd of the Certainty of his
Resurrection by a Youth or an Angel or two, they could not tell
whether, but they were as like to Angels, which they never saw before
in their Lives, as Youths could be) who knew him, not by his
Countenance, for _their Eyes were holden_, but by his Talk on
Scripture Prophecy, which was his usual Cant before his Death. And at
another Time he appear'd to his old Acquaintance, who knew him, not by
the Features of his Face, but by an habitual Motion and Action of his
Hand in _breaking of Bread_. And at another Time he was corporally
present, but _they thought, they saw a Spirit_. About _eight Days
after that_, he appear'd among more of his old Friends, but for all
their former Intimacy with him, some of them _doubted_ whether it was
the _Doctor_ or not. At another Time he came to them in _another Form_
and Shape, unlike to his pristine one, but they were sure it was _He_
by his Exposition of the Scripture. At another Time, when they were
assembled together and the Doors were lock'd, _for fear of the
Clergy_, the _Doctor_ slipt unexpectedly into their Company, either
from behind a Curtain, or miraculously enter'd at the Key-hole. And
the last Time he appear'd, there was one of his intimate Friends had
not known him, but by a _Sore_ in his Breast, which the Power of God,
in his Resurrection, did not heal: After which, they said, he
_vanish'd away, was taken up into Heaven_, and they saw him no more.
Supposing, I say, the _French_ Prophets had told such like Stories of
_Doctor Emms_'s Resurrection and of his Appearances to them; what
would your Priests and all other wise Men have said to it? Why, that
it was all idle Tales, manifest Lyes, Sham, and Imposture; and that if
the _Doctor_, in Confutation of the Errors of our Priests, had risen
to Life, God would have kept him in his Sepulchre, his full time, and
have rais'd him in the Presence of Priests, Magistrates and People;
and that he would have walk'd afterwards publickly in the Streets
without Danger, to the Satisfaction of all, who knew him, that he was
the same _Emms_ who died and was bury'd: _Without Danger_, I say, from
the Populace, who would have been so far from affronting him, that
they would have almost adored him for the miraculous Favour God had
done him, in his Resurrection from the Dead; and that he would never
have skulk'd about, and absconded himself for _forty Days_ together,
before he was pretendedly translated; and therefore there was nothing
but notorious Deceit and Imposture in all these Pretences.

I need not make the Application of this Case and Story, which your
_Priests_ know how to do for me. To say here, that there's none would
be so desperate to engage in such a Fraud, as is the supposed Case of
Dr. _Emms_ above, is a Mistake. Many Thousands for their Diversion
would enterprise it; and the Stories of the Apparitions of Ghosts,
which are almost all the Frauds of the Crafty to delude the Ignorant,
do prove it. I my self would be forward to concert such an Intrigue,
if it were but to put the Banter upon the _Clergy_, to ruffle their
Tempers, and secretly to laugh at them. Nothing would deter me from
it, but Fears of the Civil Magistrate, which was not the Danger of the
Disciples of _Jesus_, because _Pilate_, for the Sake of Rule over the
_Jews_, was a Countenancer of every Faction amongst them; and
particularly[318] _Tiberius_, upon _Pilate_'s Representation of the
Matter, soon commanded that the Disciples of _Jesus_ should not be
molested, nor call'd into Question: So the Disciples stood to the
Fraud, told the Story of _Jesus risen_ so often, till they believed it
themselves, and drew Multitudes into the Belief of it: Which Belief
must have continued thro' all Generations to come, but for my Argument
of Fraud, before urg'd and argued.

Here, Sir, before I conclude this Letter, I think it my Duty however to
give you my Opinion of the Religion, that _Jesus_ and his Disciples
were for introducing into the World. Tho' I believe, what I have proved,
his Resurrection, to be a Piece of Fraud, and his other Miracles to have
been all Artifice; and tho' our _Chief Priests_ and ancient Nation are
justifiable in the Sentence, that was pass'd and executed upon _Jesus_;
yet I must do him and his Disciples the Justice, to own, that the
Doctrine they taught was, for the most Part of it, good, useful and
popular, being no other than the Law and Religion of Nature, which, all
Nations being wearied with their own Superstitions, and sick of the
Burthen of their Priests, ran apace into. Accordingly one[319] of your
ancient Fathers says, that they _who lived according to the Law of
Nature, were true Christians_. And I must needs say, that if Christians,
in Process of Time, had not sophisticated this primitive Religion of
_Jesus_; if they had not built their systematical Divinity upon him, and
brought strange Inventions of Men into his Worship; if, lastly, they had
not again subjugated and entangled themselves with another and worse
Yoke of Bondage, to an intolerable and tyrannical Priesthood of the
Church, the World might have enjoy'd great Happiness under _Jesus_'s
Religion, even _that Happiness_ which is now only to be expected upon a
Disproof of his miraculous Resurrection, that has been the Foundation of
a most confused Superstructure of wild Doctrines and Opinions: Or more
truely speaking, _That Happiness_ of the State of Nature, Religion and
Liberty, which may be look'd for upon the coming of our _Messiah_, the
allegorical Accomplisher of the Law and the Prophets; whose Advent, upon
the Tradition of our _Cabalists_, will be towards the latter End of the
_Sixth_ grand Age of the Creation, to remove from our Faces and our
Hearts the Veil of the Letter; and in the mean while I adhere to the
umbratical Rites, Ceremonies and way of Worship, derived from our

Thus, Sir, have I finish'd my _Letter_ on _Jesus_'s Resurrection; and
whether I have not said enough to justify our _Jewish_ Disbelief of
that Miracle, let your _Chief Priests_ judge. I don't expect my
Argument against it will be convincing of any of your Preachers. They
have a potent Reason for their Faith, which we _Jews_ can't come at;
or I don't know but we might believe with them.

I trust you'll meet with no Molestation for the Publication of this
_Letter_; neither do I think, it was any thing of mine, inserted in
your Discourses, that at any time brought Trouble on you. It was your
own Imprudence to rave, as you do, against _Ecclesiasticks_. What need
had you to talk of the Mischiefs and Inconveniences of an Hireling
Priesthood? What Occasion had you to call them Ecclesiastical Vermin,
and to speak of the Happiness of Mankind upon their Extinction? These
things are very provoking. And here's the true Source, in my Opinion,
of all your Troubles!

Tho' I have here shewn, that _Christ is not risen_, yet I have more
Wit than to make the Inference of St. _Paul_, that _their Preaching is
vain_. Their Oratory is still useful, if it be but to tickle the Ears
and amuse the Understandings of the People about Doctrines they
underhand not, whether true or false. And such an Order of Men, as are
your Priesthood, are, by their Habit of long Robes, an Ornament to
Society; and it is an Honour to the Country to have them well fed and
clad. Had I Room for it, I could write a curious _Encomium_ in Praise
of them, and tell the World of what Use and Advantage they have been,
in all Ages. O what Wars and Persecutions might have been rais'd in
the World, but for their pacifick Tempers! How would Sin and
Immorality have broke in upon Mankind, like a Deluge, but for the
Goodness of their Lives, and the Excellency of their Precepts! How has
the Increase and Multitude of their warm Sermons been the Ruin of
_Satan_'s hot and divided Kingdom of Darkness and Error! It's owing to
their Pains and Labours, that every Age, for many past, has been
improving in Virtue, till the present, which for Piety and good Morals
is that perfection of Time, which is not to be meliorated but by the
Restitution of the golden Age.

So could I enlarge in Praise of your _Clergy_; and so should you have
done; and then you might have disputed, as you do, against any
Doctrines, Miracles and Articles of Faith, without Molestation. Try, if
you can't correct that fundamental Error, you have committed. Assert
still, if you can, with Dr. _Rogers_, the Necessity of an establish'd
Priesthood, well paid, for the Service of the _King_ and the Country,
under all Changes of Religion; which may be a Means to retrieve their
Favour, and will beget in me a better Opinion of your Prudence, than at
present is entertain'd by your _Assured Friend_ N. N.

So ends the Letter of my Friend, the _Jewish Rabbi_, in which, to my
Comfort, he has conform'd himself to the Rules of _Sedateness_,
_Decency_ and _Sobriety_ of Argument, prescrib'd by the two great
_Bishops_ of _London_ and St. _David_'s. If the Weight and Solidity of
his Argument don't grieve the _Clergy_, I am in no Pain for the Levity
and Ludicrousness of it. And whether the Weight and Nature of his
Argument against _Jesus_'s Resurrection will at all startle and
surprize them, I know not; but I profess for my self, that I might
have study'd long enough for such an Argument against it, as this
_Rabbi_, with his great grey Beard, has presently hit of. He told me
beforehand, that his Thoughts on _Jesus_'s Resurrection should be out
of the common Road of thinking; and I must needs say, he has been as
good as his Word, or no Man ever kept his Promise.

There are two Things very remarkable in his Argument: The _one_ is,
the Use and Design of sealing the Stone of _Jesus_'s Sepulchre, which
he lays great Stress on, to the Proof of Fraud in his Resurrection;
and the _other_ is, his Application of these Words, _the last Error_
(or as he reads Deceit or Imposture) _will be worse than the first_
or former, in which he makes the _Chief Priests_ in their Speech to
_Pilate_, to refer to _Lazarus_'s Resurrection as the former known
Imposture. If his Application be just and true, the Consequence is,
that the Resurrections of _Jesus_ and _Lazarus_ are both Impostures.
It grieves me to the Heart to think of this Consequence, which our
_Divines_ are to see to, and evade, if they can. No sooner did I read
his Application of the foresaid Words, but I run to our _Commentators_
for another and better Exposition of them: But alas! to my Sorrow,
they made nothing of them, but a sort of a _proverbial Expression_,
which the _Chief Priests_ must have spoil'd and knock'd out of Joint.
Being then under great Trouble for the Truth of Christianity, and the
Certainty of these two grand Miracles, I refer the Matter to our
Learned _Clergy_, desiring them to be as speedy as they can in another
and more proper Interpretation of the foresaid Words, or _Jews_ and
_Infidels_ will run away with them in the _Rabbi_'s Sense, to the
Confutation of our holy Religion.

I consider'd lately, that _Easter_ drew nigh, when it was usual for
our _Divines_ in their Pulpits, to insist on the Proof of _Jesus_'s
Resurrection; and therefore I hasten'd the Publication of this
_Discourse_, that they might have these two peculiar Texts, _viz._ of
_sealing the Stone_ of the Sepulchre, and of _the last Error_ or
Imposture _will be worse than the first_, to treat on. He that
produces a Sermon or Sermons, wresting the foresaid Texts out of the
Hands of my _Rabbi_, and putting another Sense on them, to the Credit
of _Jesus_'s and _Lazarus_'s Resurrection,

      _Erit mihi magnus Apollo_,

and by my Consent shall be the next _Arch-Bishop_ of _Canterbury_.

But my Heart aches a little for our _Divines_, and I almost despair of
their clean Solutions of the foresaid two Difficulties. What must they
do then? Why, they must give up their _Religion_ as well as their
_Church_, or go along with me to the Fathers for their mystical
Interpretation of the whole Story of _Jesus_'s Resurrection.

That the Fathers, without questioning their Belief of _Jesus_'s
corporal Resurrection universally interpreted the Story and every Part
of it mystically, is most certain. St. _Hilary_[320] enumerates many
Particulars of the Story, and intimates what they are typical and
figurative of, as any one may see by the Citation referr'd to, which I
have not Room to translate and illustrate.

St. _Augustin_[321] says, that _Jesus_'s Resurrection from the Dead at
that time, was to exhibit an Image and Resemblance of his future and
mystical Resurrection. And elsewhere says[322] that it's a holy Pleasure
to consider and search for the things signified by the Story of it.

That _Origen_ is of the same Opinion, no body need question. A
Multitude of his Testimonies might be produced to this Purpose, but I
shall mention only one[323], wherein he asserts, that by the Sepulchre
of _Jesus_ is to be understood the _Letter_ of the Scriptures, in
which, as in a Rock, he is reposited.

St. _John_ of _Jerusalem_[324] by the Crucifiers of _Jesus_
understands false Teachers, meaning _Ministers_ of the _Letter_ to be
sure, because he himself was a great Allegorist.

St. _Hilary_ says that[325] _Barabbas_ is a Type of _Antichrist_; and
by _Antichrist_, as I have elsewhere shewn out of the Fathers, is
meant the _Letter_ of the Scriptures, which modern Commentators and
Crucifiers of _Jesus_ would prefer to the Spirit. For these are the
two, _Letter_ and Spirit, the _Christ_ and _Antichrist_, that are
contrary one to another.

St. _Jerom_[326] says, that by the _Vail_ of the _Temple_ rent at
_Jesus_'s Resurrection, is to be understood the opening the _Vail_ of
the _Letter_ of the Law and the Prophets for the Manifestation of the
divine Mysteries contain'd in them. And by the rending of the Rocks
according[327] to him is to be understood the Apertion of the Oracles
of God, that were before as hard as a Rock, till his spiritual
Resurrection for the Illustration of them. And by the Earthquake, He
says is meant the Shaking of the[328] Hearts of Men, and preparing
them, by a Dereliction of their old Errors, for the Susception of the
true Knowledge of God.

As to the Time that _Jesus_ was dead and bury'd, which modern
_Divines_ call _three Days_ and _three Nights_, St. _Augustin_
says[329] that according to the Scripture he was not so long dead and
buried. Many, says[330] he, have put various Constructions on the Time
of _Christ_'s Burial, endeavouring to make three Days of it: But we,
without slighting any of their Opinions, are for a mystical
Interpretation, and suppose, that by the three Days are to be
understood Three Ages of the World.

The Day would fail me to collect all the Passages out of the Fathers,
in Interpretation of one or other of the Parts of the Story of
_Jesus_'s Resurrection, but what I have here said in a few Citations,
is enough to show, that they look'd upon the whole Story, as
emblematical of his spiritual Resurrection out of the _Grave_ of the
_Letter_ of the Scriptures, in which he has been buried about _three
Days_ and _three Nights_, according to that mystical Interpretation of
prophetical Numbers which I have learn'd of them.

And thus have I done with the Miracle of _Jesus_'s Resurrection,
which, by the Help of my Friend the Jewish _Rabbi_, I have shewn,
according to the Letter, to consist of the greatest Incredibilities.
And with this I conclude my _Discourses_ on his Miracles, intending to
treat on no more of them, unless I am invited or provoked to it. I had
once an Inclination to make another _Discourse_ on _Jesus_'s
miraculous Conception, and on his feeding his Thousands, in the
Wilderness, with a few Loaves and Fishes; but upon a little
Consideration on the Letter of those two Stories, I found myself too
grave for the Work; and my _Rabbi_'s Thoughts are too gay and wanton;
therefore it must be omitted, till the _Clergy_ importune me to it,
and signify their Curiosity to see it perform'd by me.

My Discourses hereafter, if God spare me Life and Liberty, which under
his Providence I don't despair of, to publish another Volume, shall
treat on some historical Passages of the New Testament, such as, "On
the Stories of _Jesus_'s Birth; and the Appearances of Angels to the
Shepherds keeping Watch over their Flocks by Night: "The Journey and
Presents of the Wise Men to _Jesus_: "The Slaughter of the Innocents
at _Bethlehem_, and of _Herod_'s Cruelty: "The Travels of _Joseph_
with the Child _Jesus_ and his Mother into _Egypt_: "The Disputation
of _Jesus_ with the _Doctors_ in the Temple, and his Elopement from
his Parents: "His riding on an Ass to _Jerusalem_; and on other such
like Passages of his Life. For I am resolv'd to give the Letter of the
Scripture no Rest, so long as God gives me Life and Abilities to
attack it. _Origen_[331] _says_, that _when we dispute against
Ministers of the Letter, we must select some historical Parts of
Scripture, which they understand literally, and shew that according to
the Letter, they can't stand their Ground, but imply Absurdities and
Nonsense_. And how then is such a Work to be perform'd to best
Advantage? Is it to be done in a grave, sedate, and serious Manner?
No, I think Ridicule should here take Place of sober Reasoning, as the
more proper and effectual Means to cure Men of their foolish Faith and
absurd Notions. As no wise Man hardly ever reprehends a Blunderbuss
for his Bull, any other way, than by laughing at him; so the Asserters
of nonsensical Notions in Theology should, if possible, be satirized
and jetted upon, or they'll never be put out of Countenance for, nor
desert their absurd Doctrines. And there never was a polemical Divine,
that, if he had an Opportunity and Advantage over the Weakness of his
Adversary, did not take such a ludicrous and merry Course with him.

But on such historical Passages of the Gospel as before mention'd, do
I trust to publish another Volume of _Discourses_, like to these on
_Jesus_'s Miracles; and at present pass to my third general Head, at
first proposed to be spoken to, and that is,

III. To consider what _Jesus_ means, when he appeals to his Works and
Miracles, as to a Testimony and Witness of his Authority; and to show
that he did not properly and ultimately refer to these done in the
_Flesh_, but to those mystical ones he would do in the _Spirit_, of
which those done in the Flesh are but mere Types and Shadows.

And on this Head I shall be short, there being no Occasion of many
Words on it. The _Bishop_ of _London_[332] has collected many Sayings
of _Jesus_, wherein he seems to appeal to the Works he then did and
had done in Flesh, as to a Witness of him. But why might not _Jesus_
then prophesy, and mean the spiritual Works which _He-in-us_ would do?
It is the known Way of the Prophets to speak of Things to come, as if
they were already past, because such Prophecies are not to be
understood, till their Accomplishment: Even so did _Jesus_ prophesy,
when he appeal'd to his Works, as I could prove from the Nature and
Manner of his Expressions, but that the Argument would be dry and
tedious: And therefore I refer the Matter entirely to the Fathers, who
asserted that _Jesus_ prophesied in his _Miracles_ as well as in his
_Parables_, and that the Works he then did in the Flesh were but Types
of his mysterious Operations, that would be the Demonstration of his
Authority and Messiahship. Hence it is that _Origen_[333] says that
_Jesus_'s first coming was but a Type and Shadow of his spiritual
Advent and that his[334] true Miracles, by which his Authority is to
be proved, are spiritual: Hence it is that St. _Hilary_ repeatedly
says[335] that _Jesus_'s Works were significative and predictive of
mysterious Operations, which we were especially to look to. And Hence
it is that all the other Fathers interpreted the Miracles of _Jesus_
in a mystical and allegorical Sense.

The Question then is, to what Miracles did _Jesus_ truly and properly
appeal, in the Opinion of the Fathers, for his Authority and
Messiahship? Was it to the Typical or Antitypal Works? was it to the
_Shadow_ or to the _Substance_ of his Operations? To his substantial
Operations, to be sure, which are and will be his spiritual ones upon
the Soul, that are greater than those once done on Men's Bodies, and
which will be a proper Proof of his divine Power. And to declare my
Opinion freely, I am only for such a spiritual _Messiah_, who will
cure the _Errors_ call'd the Diseases of Mankind, which _Jesus_ of
_Nazareth_ has not as yet done.

But not to dispute this Point with _Bishop Gibson_, I will leave him
in the Enjoyment of his Opinion of his literal _Messiah_, and
miraculous Operator on Men's Bodies; if he'll but indulge me in the
Belief of my spiritual _Messiah_ to come for the healing of modern
Distempers call'd the Sins and Errors of Mankind. And in the mean time
let us draw the Comparison between his _literal_ and my _spiritual_
Jesus; and let the World judge, to whom the Preference is to be given
for Power and Authority.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_'s Messiahship, because he
cured the _bodily Blindness_ of many miraculously; And a good Work it
was: But I am for the Messiahship of a spiritual _Jesus_ to come, who
will open the _blind Eyes_ of our Understandings to discern Truth from
Error, which will be a most glorious Operation, that his _Jesus_ of
_Nazareth_ has not as yet done.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for _Jesus_'s Messiahship, who once cured _bodily
Deafness_ in many, which was indeed well done of him: But I am for the
Messiahship of a spiritual _Jesus_ to come, to heal the _Deafness_ of
our Souls, or their _Dulness_ in Apprehension of sublime Mysteries,
which will be a divine Work, that his _Jesus_ has not as yet done.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for _Jesus_'s Messiahship, because he cured Men's
bodily _Lameness_, for which I do praise him: But I am for a spiritual
_Jesus_'s Messiahship, who will heal Mankind of their _Halting_
between two and more Opinions; a more blessed Work, that _Jesus_ of
_Nazareth_ has not as yet done for us!

And so, comparing all other Diseases of Body and Soul together, I am for
the _Jesus_, who will heal the Diseases of the Soul; and have a much
less Regard for _Bishop Gibson's Jesus_, who cured the Diseases of a few
Men's Bodies; but for all that, am not angry with the _Bishop_ for his
high Veneration of his _Jesus_, neither would I by any Means have him
prosecuted and punish'd for not being of the same Mind with me.

But, because the _Bishop_ suspects me of Infidelity, in that I have
ludicrously treated some of the Miracles of his _Jesus_, which by the by
he has not vindicated from the Absurdities and Incredibilities I charged
them with; I will humour the _Bishop_, and supposing _Jesus_ wrought
literally those Miracles which are allegorically interpreted by me, will
in those very Miracles compare his _literal_ and my _spiritual_ Jesus
together; and appeal to all Men of Consideration, which is the most
worthy of the Title and Honour of the true _Messiah_.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for his _Jesus_'s Messiahship, who miraculously
drove the _Buyers_ and _Sellers_ out of the Temple, just as if a Man,
was God to invest him with Power, should furiously drive the
_Butchers_ and _Grasiers_ with their Cattle, to the Confusion of their
several Properties, out of _Smithfield_: A notable Miracle That! But I
am for the spiritual _Jesus_'s Messiahship, who according to the Form
of that typical Story, will at his Coming expel Ecclesiastical
Merchants out of his Church, who make Merchandise of the Gospel,
selling their _Bulls_ and _Beasts_, and _Fatlings_ of the Letter: A
most glorious and beneficial Work to Mankind will this be! And to
prepare Mens Souls for the Susception of such a spiritual _Jesus_, I
intend to publish a _Discourse_ of the Mischiefs and Inconveniencies
of an _Hireling Priesthood_, wherein it shall be proved, that Mankind
can't be either good, wise or happy under the Kingdom of this
_Messiah_ to come, without an Abolition and Extirpation of them.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for the Messiahship of his _Jesus_, who _cast the
Devils out of the Madmen, and permitted them to enter into the Herd of
Swine_, that _ran violently down a Precipice, and were choak'd in the
Sea_: How great a Miracle it was thus to cure the Madmen, the _Bishop_
may know best, being perhaps better acquainted with the Devil than I
am; but was it not for Pity to the _Swineherds_, for their Losses, I
could even now laugh at the Thoughts of the Hoggs running and tumbling
down-hill, as if the _Devil_ drove them: But leaving the Bishop
_calmly_, _decently_, and _seriously_ to admire the Wisdom and Justice
of his _Jesus_ in that Act, I am for the spiritual _Jesus_, who,
according to the typical Form of that Story, exorcis'd the furious and
diabolical Tempers out of the _Jews_ and _Gentiles_ of old, whom no
Chains of Reason could hold from doing Violence to the Christians,
till they were converted; and tho' He permitted the like persecuting
and diabolical Spirits to enter into Ecclesiastical Swine; yet will
they be precipitated into the _Sea_ of the Knowledge of God, wherein
they will be absorpt with divine Visions and Contemplations. O most
glorious Work! that bespeaks the Wisdom, Power and Goodness of our
spiritual _Jesus_, from the Beginning to the End of it.

Bishop _Gibson_ admires his _Jesus_, for his Transfiguration on Mount
_Tabor_, tho' neither He nor any Body else can tell, wherein lay the
Miracle, nor into what various Figures and Shapes _Jesus_ was
transform'd: But I am for the spiritual _Jesus_, whose glorious
Transfiguration, after _six_ grand Days of the Creation, will be
conspicuous, when with the Eyes of our Understanding we shall behold
him metamorphosed into the Forms of all the Types of him under the
Law. I am now ravish'd with the intellectual View of this
Transfiguration; and believe, was I to set about it, I could give
others (except the Bishop) an Idea and Conception or it to their
Astonishment at the Glory of _Jesus_ in it.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for the Messiahship of _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_,
because he cured a _Woman of an Issue of Blood_, after she had spent
all she had upon Physicians to no purpose, which might be, or might
not be a Miracle, for any thing he can argue upon it: But I am for the
spiritual _Jesus_'s Messiahship, who, at his Coming, will, according
to that typical Story, cure the _Woman_ of the Church of her _Issue of
Blood_, that is shed in Persecution and War, which her Ecclesiastical
Physicians of the _Clergy_ have not been able to stop, tho' they have
receiv'd large Fees and Stipends of the Church to that Purpose. Will
not this be a desirable and beneficial Work to all Nations? And who
knows not, (excepting the _Bishop_) that it is of the Office of the
true Messiah, to give _abundance of Peace_ to Mankind, to _make the
Lion to lye down with the Lamb_; and to induce Men to _break their
Swords into Plough-shares_, and _their Spears into Pruning-hooks_; and
to _make Wars to cease_ in all the World. Which Prophecies are so far
from being fulfill'd by _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_, that there has been
nothing but Wrangling and Jangling, and Scolding and Fighting about
him ever since. I wonder the Want of the Accomplishment of the
foresaid Prophecies has not long before now occasion'd the Rejection
of _Jesus_'s Messiahship, or of the Authority of the Prophets.

Bishop _Gibson_ is for his _Jesus_'s being the Messiah, because he
cured an old _Woman_ of a _Spirit_ of, no body knows what,
_Infirmity_; consequently little or nothing is to be laid for the
Greatness of that Miracle. But I am for the spiritual _Jesus_'s
Messiahship, who, according to the Figure of that literal Story, is to
heal the _Woman_ of the Church of her _Infirmity of the Spirit_ of
Prophecy, which _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_ has not done for her, or there
would not be so many Disputes about Prophecies and their
Interpretations, so far, as there is hardly one Prophecy that
Christians are agreed about the Sense of. It is the grand
Characteristick of the true _Messiah_, that he's to restore Prophecy
and the Way of Interpretation of the Prophets, upon the allegorical
Scheme too. I speak this, not only upon the Authority of the Prophets
themselves, but upon an almost infinite Number of Testimonies of
ancient _Jews_ and _Fathers_; accordingly I expect the Advent of a
spiritual Messiah, who alone can do it, to heal the Church of her
present _Infirmity_, and to restore the Art and Gift of Prophecy.

Bishop _Gibson_ is an Admirer of _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_, because he
told a poor Whore of _Samaria_, her Fortune of _having had five
Husbands_, and being then an Adulteress with another Man; which,
according to the Letter, is such a poor sort of a Miracle, that I can
hardly think of it without blushing: But I am an Adorer beforehand of
the spiritual _Jesus_ who, according to that Type, will out of the Law
and the Prophets, allegorically interpreted, tell the present
heretical and adulterous Woman of the Church _all that she has done_,
and how she has been wedded to the sensible Things of the _five_ Books
of _Moses_, and is now an Adulteress with the _Anti-Christ_ of the
Letter. Such an Information of the Church will be a most stupendous
and miraculous Work, and a Demonstration of our _Jesus_'s Messiahship
beyond Contradiction, in as much as it will be agreeable to the
Opinion, that all Antiquity entertain'd of the true _Messiah_, _viz._
that he was to let us into the Sight, Knowledge and Understanding of
the Wisdom and Beauty of Providence thro' all Ages of the World.

Bishop _Gibson_ admires _Jesus_ of _Nazareth_ for _his cursing the
Figtree; for not bearing Fruit out of Season_: Shame on that Miracle,
according to the Letter, and on all Admirers of it! But I am for the
spiritual _Jesus_, who, at his coming to the Figtree of his Church,
will make its present unfruitful State to _wither away_, and cause it
to produce the Fruits of the Spirit, and allegorical Interpretations
of the Scriptures, that are compared to sweet and ripe Figs. For such
his Advent to this miraculous and beneficial Purpose I daily pray and
say too, Blessed are all those who love his Appearance!

After this Fashion could I go thro' the other Miracles, I have treated
on in these _Discourses_; and upon the Comparison set plainly before
the Eyes of my _Readers_ the Difference between the _literal_ Miracles
of Bishop _Gibson's carnal_ Jesus and the _allegorical_ ones of my
_spiritual_ Jesus, as to Stupendousness, Use and Excellency: But what
I have here done in the seven Instances above, is enough to induce us
to believe, with the Fathers, that _Jesus_'s first Coming in the
_Flesh_ was but a Type and Shadow of his second Advent in the
_Spirit_; and that _Jesus_ of old, when he appeal'd to his Works then
done, as to a Witness of his Authority, did only prophesy, and refer
ultimately to his mystical Operations, that are alone the Proof of his
Godlike and divine Power. Bishop _Gibson_ says[336] of me, that
_pretending to raise the Actions and Miracles of our Saviour to a more
exalted and spiritual Meaning, I have labour'd to take away the
Reality of them, and by that to destroy one of the principal Evidences
of Christianity_. But I presume now, he'll be sensible of the Rashness
and Incogitancy of that Accusation. If he be not, I shall say of him,
in Case he write any more for _Jesus's literal_ Miracles in Opposition
to his _allegorical_ ones that he's like the Dog in the Fable (the
Bishop will excuse the Coarseness of the Comparison) that let go the
_Substance_ of his Mutton, and catch'd at the Shadow, and so, like a
foolish _Cur_ as he was, lost both.

And thus have I done with the _Three_ general Heads at first proposed
to be handled in these _Discourses_. Now whether I am, upon the whole,
an _Infidel_, or _Believer_ of Christianity, the World is to judge.
I'll make no more solemn Declarations of my Belief of it, much less at
this Juncture of Time, when I am under Prosecution for Infidelity;
because it would be a sneaking, tame, and cowardly Act in me, and such
an Argument of that Meanness of Spirit, as I abhor and detest. My
_Works_ shall speak for me, in which, being conscious of the Innocency
of my Intentions, and of the Usefulness of my Design, I mean to
proceed; not doubting but some of our _clergy_, upon two or three
more _Discourses_ against the Letter of the _New Testament_, will find
me out, what I am, and whether I am not a true Professor of the
Religion of the spiritual and holy _Jesus_.

In the mean Time I'll not compound the Difference depending between
Bishop _Gibson_ and my self, upon any other Terms, than his making me
ample Satisfaction for the Injuries done to my Reputation and low
Fortunes. Tho' he may thirst after my Life, or at least, my Liberty;
yet under the Providence of God I fear not the Loss of either. God be
prais'd, this Kingdom is bless'd with such a Civil Administration for
Wisdom, Justice and Mercy, as no Nation of the World can equal. Our
Magistrates are all Philosophers, Lovers of Truth, and of an Enquiry
into it; and so tender of the religious as well as of the civil Rights
of the Subject, that I have nothing to dread from them.

There is somewhat _popular_ indeed, tho' nothing true nor rational, in
the Clamour and Accusations of the _Clergy_ against me. Bishop _Gibson_
would insinuate[337] that my _Discourses_ on _Miracles_ strike _at the
Foundation of civil Society_; but by an unnatural Consequence of his
own making. I confess, it is an heinous Crime to write any Thing that
tends to the Subversion or Prejudice of the civil Society: But how will
the _Bishop_ make me guilty of it? If the _Clergy_ will not be
Disturbers of the Peace of the Publick upon my _Discourses_; it's
certain, that the Quiet of the World, which I wish and aim at, will be
inviolably kept and preserv'd for all me. My Followers indeed, when I
walk the Streets of this City, are _numerous_; and if any of them should
break the Peace, what serves my _Lord Mayor_'s Power for, but to
chastise them for it? As for my self and my Adherents at home, which, as
yet, are _without Number_, we are all _Quietists_ and should act against
our Consciences and Religion, if we should injure any Man in his Person
and Property. But I smile to see a _Clergyman_ all on a sudden, like the
_Bishop_, so tender of the Welfare of the Publick, when
_Ecclesiasticks_, in all Ages past, have been the _Bane_ of Society and
the _Pest_ of Mankind, as appears from the Wars and Persecution they
have rais'd in the World; and from that Strife, Variance and Discords,
they have occasion'd in Cities and Families. And with Submission to the
_Bishop_, who I hope will not be angry for my saying it, I am sure, the
_Clergy_ at this Juncture, are like an _high-mettal'd blind Horse_,
that were they not ridden by the Civil Authority with a strait Rein,
would be oppressing and trampling upon all, that flood in the Way of
their Interests, to the Disturbance of _Civil Society_.

_Profaneness_ too does the _Bishop_ charge me with. But why so? Because
I ridicule the Nonsense and Absurdities of _Jesus_'s Miracles according
to the Letter, which he venerates. Very fine indeed! The _Bishop_ would
worship the _Head_ of an _Ass_, and a wiser Man than himself, without
the Charge of Profaneness, must not laugh at his foolish Superstition.

And _Blasphemy_ lastly does the _Bishop_ accuse me of: And this is a
sad _Bugbear_ Word, that has frighted Abundance of People into
dreadful Apprehensions of my Guilt, even to the Abhorrence of me. But
the _Bishop_ should first have defined, what is meant by _Blasphemy_,
and have proved me guilty of it, before he had made his Exclamations:
Or the _Turks_ may say that a Jest upon their _Alcoran_, in which
there are no Contradictions, is as much a _Blasphemy_, as any
Ludicrousness upon the _Gospels_, which are full of Inconsistencies.
That there is such a Sin or Error, call'd _Blasphemy_, according to
the Scriptures, is certain: But our _Divines_ are undetermined about
the Nature of it. I intend to take my Opportunity to treat on the Sin
of Blasphemy, and to prove, _Ministers_ of the _Letter_ are the only
Persons that can be guilty of it. _Ministers_ of the _Letter_, upon
the Authority of the Fathers, are the Worshippers of the
_Apocalyptical Beast_; and anti-allegorical Expositions are that
_Blasphemy_, St. _John_ writes of, which the _Beast_ and his
Worshippers will open their Mouths in, against the most High. This
shall be proved as clear as the Light. But when I do it, I would not
have any think, it is with an Intention to bring the Bishops of
_London_, _Litchfield_, and St. _David_'s, or any other _Divines_,
under Prosecution for that heinous Sin: No, my God is omnipotent,
omniscient and omnipresent; and knows how and when to reckon with such
Blasphemers, without calling upon the Civil Magistrate to do it for
him. Should I importune the Civil Authority to execute Vengeance upon
them, I should make a foolish _Calf_ or a Senseless _Idol_ of my God,
that was unable, or knew not how, nor when to vindicate his own Cause.
Surely the _Bishop_ of _London_, upon his Prosecution of me for
_Blasphemy_, must think his God now _asleep_ or _gone a Journey_ from
Home; or he would not be for taking God's own Work out of his Hands,
and committing it to the Care of the Civil Magistrates.

The _Bishop_ moreover should consider, that the Words _prophane_ and
_blasphemous_ are of no Use and Signification among Philosophers, who in
Disputation never cast them at each other, however they may differ in
Opinion. Philosophers are all supposed to be such profound Venerators of
the Deity, as they would not be guilty of _Prophaneness_ and _Blasphemy_
for the whole World. If any of our School of _Free-Thinkers_ should say
of his Opponent that he's _prophane_ and _blasphemous_, he would be
reprimanded for want of Wit, Temper and good Manners; and be told that
he's like a _Billingsgate Scold_, who has Recourse to impertinent bad
Language, when her Reason fails her for better Rhetorick.

But it may be, for ought I know, the _Bishop_ has some Design in his
Accusations against me for _Profaneness_ and _Blasphemy_; but I hope
it is a better than to prejudice the Civil Magistrate, or to incense
the Populace.

According to the Fathers I am so far from being a Blasphemer, that
they say, _Christ_ upon the literal Interpretation of his Miracles is
metamorphosed into the False-Christ, call'd _Anti-Christ_. Whether
there is any Truth in this their Opinion I can't be positive, till the
Experiment is fully made. But if our _Clergy_ will keep their Temper,
and grant me a clear Stage of Battle, I'll try it out; and see whether
I can't, by the Club of Reason and primitive Authority, give their
_Anti-Christ_ a fatal Blow: Who knows but I may give Peace to the
Church, and reconcile all Parties by it?

However this may be; I am sure, no Man can wish for a greater
Advantage over his Enemy, than I have over the _Bishop_ in this
Controversy: But he shall find me a generous Adversary, who will make
no worse Use of my Advantage over him than now and then to put him in
Mind of his _Pastoral Letter_, and of the Prosecution; unless I should
be tempted, ere long, to publish my _Moderatorial_ Letter, like his
_Pastoral_ one, to the People of _London_ and _Westminster_, with
_Ten_ wholesome Rules in it, not only to caution them against false
Prophets and false Teachers, without forgetting the _Bishop_ of the
_Diocese_, but to direct them to the Ecclesiastical Fountain of the
growing Sins, Errors and Infidelity of the Age, which the _Clergy_
know I am of Ability to lay open.

When I began the Publication of these _Discourses_, I own, I laid a
_Trap_ for some considerable _Clergyman_; but little imagined, the
great _Bishop_ of _London_ would be caught in it. But now I have taken
hold of him, I'll not release him out of the Controversy, till he has
sorely repented of his Ignorance or Malice in calling me a _Writer, in
Favour of Infidelity_.

So much at present for the Bishop of _London_. I have been the quicker
of late in the printing of _this_, because I am given to understand,
the _Bishop_ of St. _David_'s stays for it, intending to make but one
Work of it, and answer all _six Discourses_ together. I hope my
_Rabbi_'s Letter here will be thought by him, a good Payment for his
Patience. And now I shall be in Expectation of his Mountainous
Production, and where I shall hide myself from the terrible Strokes of
his Pen, I have not as yet consider'd.

I am not a little pleas'd to see a _Couple_ of Dissenting Preachers,
_viz._ Dr. _Harris_ and Mr. _Atkinson_, lifted into the Controversy
against me. If they had kept their Necks out of the Collar, they might
have dissembled and pretended, that, upon the Conclusion of the Battle,
when it would have appear'd, I am a real Contender for Primitive
Christianity, they had a better Understanding of the Fathers, and a
clearer View of my Design, than to suspect me of Blasphemy and
Infidelity: But now they are engag'd with equal Spite, Ignorance and
Defamations against me, they must take their Share of the Fate and
Shame, with the _Clergy_, upon the Conclusion of the Controversy.

There's no Body can think it worth my while to bestow a Six-penny
_Pamphlet_ upon either of these _Gentlemen_, but for all that, they
shall not be altogether slighted and neglected by me. I have made a
Collection of their Rhetorical Flowers, which occasionally shall be
presented the Publick, to the Admiration of their Wit, Reason,
Learning and Eloquence. And at present only take Notice, that they are
_both_ for the Persecution of me; but not so much for my Opinions, as
the Indecency, Irreverence, and Immorality of my Stile; forsooth!
which is just such a Distinction, as may be easily stretch'd to the
Justification of the Persecution of all Authors, whom the Priesthood
in Power shall not like. Mr. _Atkinson_'s Argument for the Persecution
of me, is much the same with that, which _John Calvin_ used for the
Persecution of that great Philosopher _Servetus_; the Injustice and
Cruelty of whose Death and Sufferings is a greater Reproach to the
Name of _Calvin_, than the Martyrdom of any _Protestant_ can be to the
Memory of any Popish Prelate.

To conclude, what I have written, in these _Six Discourses_, is with a
View to the Glory of God, the Advancement of Truth, the Happiness of
Mankind, the Demolition of _Babylon_, the Edification of _Jerusalem_,
and the Demonstration of the Messiahship of our Spiritual _Jesus_, to
whom be Glory for ever. _Amen._




[309] Revelations, Chap. xviii. 11.

[310] _In his Pastoral Letter_, P. 35.

[311] Daniel, Chap. vi. 17.

[312] Adducor ut credam Pilati Annulo & hunc Lapidem signatum. _In
Loc. Matt._

[313] _Upon the Place in_ Matthew.

[314] Si Jesus volebat re vera declarare suam divinam Potentiam,
debuerat suis Insultatoribus, ipsique Præsidi qui capitalem sententiam
contra se tulerat, denique cæteris omnibus se ostendere. _In Orig.
Lib._ ii. _contra Celsum_.

[315] In _Limborchii_ Amica Collatione cum Judæo.

[316] Magna sane Res & miranda occurrit hoc loco, quæ non solum
aliquem ex vulgo Credentium exercere posset, sed perfectiores etiam;
cur non Dominus post Resurrectionem æque ac superioribus temporibus
conspiciendum se præbuerit. _In Lib._ ii. _cont._ Celsum.

[317] Quamvis Celsus has Jesu post Resurrectionem Apparitiones
conferre conetur cum vulgaribus Spectris & Visionibus. _In Origen.
Lib._ ii. _contra Celsum_.

[318] Comminatus est periculum Accusatoribus Christianorum. _Tertul.
Apol. Cap._ v.

[319] Justin Matyr. _In Apol._ ii.

[320] Quod autem a Joseph, rogato Pilato ut Corpus redderet, & sindone
involvitur, & in Monumento novo in Petra excisa reponitur, & Saxum
Ostio Monumenti advolvitur: Quanquam sit Ordo Gestorum, & sepeliri eum
erat necesse, qui resurrecturus erat a mortuis, tamen non sine Rerum
aliquarum Momento expressa sunt singula. Joseph Apostolorum habet
speciem: & idcirco quanquam in duodecem numero Apostolorum non fuerit,
Discipulus Domini nuncupatur. Hic munda sindone corpus involvit; &
quidem in hoc eodem linteo reperimus de cœlo ad Petrum universorum
Animantium genera summissa. Ex quo forte non superflue intelligitur
sub lintei hujus nomine consepeliri Christo Ecclesiam: quia tum in eo,
ut in Confusione Ecclesiæ mundorum atque immundorum Animalium fuerit
congesta diversitas. Domini igitur Corpus tanquam per Apostolorum
doctrinam in vacuam & novam requiem Lapidis excisi, _viz._ in pectus
duritiæ Gentilis quodam doctrinæ opere excisum Christus infertur, rude
scilicet & novum, & nullo antea ingressu timoris Dei pervium. Et quia
nihil præter cum oporteat in pectora nostra penetrare, Lapis Ostio
advolvitur: ut quia nullus antea in nos divinæ Cognitionis Auctor
fuerat illatus, nullus absque eo postea inferatur. Metus deinde
furandi Corporis, & Sepulchri Custodia atque Obsignatio, Stultitiæ
atque Infidelitatis Testimonium est; quod signare Sepulchrum ejus
voluerint, cujus præcepto conspexissent de Sepulchro mortuum
suscitatum. _In Loc. Matt._

[321] Ad hoc enim Dominus hodie resurrexit, ut Imaginem nobis futuræ
Resurrectionis ostenderet. _In Serm._ clxviii. _Append._

[322] Quid singula significent, quærere sanctæ quidem Deliciæ sunt.
_In Johan. Evang. C._ xx. _Tract._ 120.

[323] Monumentum Christi est divina Scriptura, in qua Divinitatis &
Humanitatis ejus mysteria densitate Litteræ veluti quadam muniuntur
Petra. _In Diversos Homil._ 2.

[324] Ne putes, tunc solummodo traditus est Christus Principibus
Sacerdotibus & Scribis.----Quando enim vides Scripturas Prophetarum &
Evangelii & Apostolorum traditas esse in Manus falsorum Sacerdotum &
Scribarum; num intelliges quia Verbum Veritatis traditum est
Principibus iniquis & Scribis? _In Mat. C._ xx.

[325] Interpretario autem Nominis Barabbæ est Patris Filius: Jam
itaque Arcanum Infidelitatis futuræ ostenditur, Christo Patris Filium
præferendo, Antichristum scilicet hominem Peccari & Diaboli filium,
potiusque adhortantibus principibus suis eligunt, Damnationi
reservatum, quam Salutis Authorem. _In Loc. Matt._

[326] Velum Templi scissum est, & omnia Legis Sacramenta, quæ prius
tegebantur, prodita sunt atque ad Gentium Populum transierunt. _In
Loc. Matt._

[327] Petræ scissæ, id est, universa Vaticinia Prophetarum. _In Epist.
ad Hedibriam._

[328] Sed mihi videtur Terræ Motus & reliqua typum ferre credentium,
quod pristinis Errorum vitiis derelictis, & Cordis emollita duritia,
postea agnoverint Creatorem. _In Loc. Matt._

[329] Ipsum autem triduum, non totum & plenum fuisse Scriptura Testis
est. _In Libro 4to de Trinitate, Sect. 10._

[330] De tribus diebus, multi sancti multa hinc senserint atque
dixerint----Sed nos neutram eorum vacantes sententiam; melius tamen,
si placet in his spiritualem requiramus Intellectum, tres Dies tria
Tempora Sæculi ponentes. _In Serm. de Symbolo._

[331] Cum disputamus adversus eos, & cum conquirimus advicem, tunc
quærimus locum Dogmatis illius in litera Legis Historiæ, & ostenditur
secundum Historiam stare non posse. _In Psal._ xxxvi.

[332] _Pastoral Letter_, P. 25.

[333] Adventus quidem Christi unus in Humilitate completus est, alius
vero speratur in Gloria. Et hic primus Adventus in Carne, mystico
quodam Sermone in Scripturis Sanctis Umbra ejus appellatur. _In Jesu
Novo Homil._ viii.

[334] Vera Christi Miracula & Sanatio Infirmorum est spiritualis. _In
Matt. C._ xxv.

[335] Hæc licet in præsens gesta sunt, quid tamen in futurum
significent contuendum est. _In Matt. C._ x. _S._ 1. Christi Gesta
aliud portendunt. _C._ xii. _S._ 1. Peragunt formam futuri gesta
præsentia. _C._ xxi.

[336] _Pastoral Letter_, P. 3.

[337] _Pastoral Letter_, P. 35.

    _BOOKS written by Mr._ WOOLSTON, _and Sold by him next Door below
    the_ Star _in_ Aldermanbury, _and by the Booksellers of_ London
    _and_ Westminster.

I. The Old Apology reviv'd, _&c._

II. Dissertatio de Pontii Pilati Epistola ad Tiberium circa Res Jesu
Christi gestas.

III. Origenis Adamantii Epistolæ duæ circa Fidem vere orthodoxam &
Scripturarum Interpretationem.

IV. The exact Fitness of the Time of Christ's Advent demonstrated by
Reason against the Objections of the old Gentiles, and modern

V. Four Free-Gifts to the Clergy, or Challenges to a Disputation on
this Question, Whether the Hireling Priests of this Age, who are all
Ministers of the Letter, be not Worshippers of the Apocalyptical
Beast, and Ministers of Anti-Christ?

VI. An Answer to the said Four Free Gifts.

VII. Two Letters to Dr. _Bennet_ on this Question, Whether the People
call'd _Quakers_ do not the nearest of any other Sect in Religion,
resemble the Primitive Christians, in Principle and Practice?

VIII. An Answer to the said two Letters.

IX. The Moderator between an Infidel and an Apostate: Or the
Controversy between the _Grounds_ and his Ecclesiastical Opponents,
set in a clear Light, _&c._

X. Two Supplements to the Moderator, _&c._

XI. A Defence of the Miracle of the _Thundering Legion_, against a
Dissertation of _Walter Moyle_, Esq.;

XII. Six Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour.

XIII. His Defence of those Discourses, against the Bishops of St.
_David_'s and _London_.

[Illustration ]

                            Mr. _WOOLSTON_'S


                                 OF HIS

                           DISCOURSES, _&c._


                        Mr. _Woolston_'s Defence

                                 OF HIS


                                 ON THE


                                 OF OUR


                 Against the _Bishops_ of St. DAVID_'s_
                   and LONDON, and his other

                                PART I.

       _Res Religionis non Verberibus sed Verbis est peragenda._

                 _London_: Printed for the Author, and
                    Sold by him, next Door to the _Star_ in
                    _Aldermanbury_, and by the Booksellers of
                    _London_ and _Westminster_, 1729.

                        [Price _One Shilling_.]


                                 TO THE



_Not long since the_ Bishop _of_ St. David_'s presented to Your_
Majesty _his_ Vindication; as _I would have done this my_ Defence, _if
I had known how to get Access to Your Royal Presence_.

_Your_ Majesty _will perceive, that here's a sad War broke out
between the_ Bishop _and my self, about_ Miracles; _which, in all
probability, will cost a large Effusion of Words; and, unless Your_
Majesty _can accommodate the Difference, will hardly be terminated
without the Slaughter of many Notions and Arguments_.

_The_ Bishop _is for making Your_ Majesty _the Arbitress of our
Controversy, which I consent to; and he talks of Your singular
Qualifications to preside at it, which I as certainly believe, as that
a_ Bishop _will not lye nor flatter_.

_Had I known before of Your_ Majesty's _Abilities at this Controversy,
I should have gone near to have applauded You for them; and the World
would readily have believed my Praises of You to be just, because I
had no Bishoprick nor_ Translation _in View for them_.

_If Your_ Majesty _has no extraordinary Talent at this Controversy, I
trust, You are wiser than to think the Better of Your self for the_
Bishop_'s Compliment. You'll not be vain; tho' he is fulsome._

_But the Bishop_, Madam, _has done me wrong. He would insinuate, that
I am disaffected to the_ King's _Title and Government; which is
entirely false. I Love and Honour Your whole Royal Family, and often
pray for Your_ Majesty _too_, without Pay, _which is more than any_
Bishop _in_ England _has done for You_.

_And what are my Prayers for Your_ Majesty? _That God may prolong Your
Days to the comfort of Your Royal Progeny, and the Joy of these
Nations; That the Felicity of Your Life may be uninterrupted by
Enemies and Misfortunes; and That after a good old Age, when Life is
no longer desirable to the happyest Princes, You may be transferr'd to
an heavenly and immortal Crown of Glory. This is the hearty and
voluntary Prayer of_,

[Sidenote: London, September 27, 1729.]

  _Your Majesty's_
       _most humble_,
        _most obedient_,
   _and faithful Servant_,
   Thomas Woolston.




                                 OF THE

                       DISCOURSES on _Miracles_.

At Last, one Volume of _Bishop Smalbroke_'s mountainous Work, that the
_Press_ has been so long pregnant with, is brought forth: And I don't
doubt, but it answers the Expectations of the _Clergy_, who will extol
it to the Skies, and applaud it to the Populace, as an absolute
Confutation of my _Discourses_; but I would advise them, if it be not
too late, not to be too profuse in their Commendations of it, for fear
that an Occasion should be given them to blush for their want of
Judgment. We have had Instances of Books before now (and one very
remarkable, in the Case of _Boyle_ against _Bently_) that have met
with a general Approbation, till they have been sifted into, and upon
Examination found empty; and it is not impossible, but _this_ of the
_Bishop_ before us, may meet with the same Fate.

I had conceived a great Opinion of this _Bishop_'s Learning and
Abilities, and, if he had not sent[338] two simple _Harbingers_
before-hand, should have been so apprehensive of his Acuteness, that
nothing, but a thorough Persuasion of the Goodness of my Cause, and of
my Power to defend it, could have kept me from Flight before him. But
I stand my Ground, and shall, against greater Adversaries than this
_Bishop_, who has more weakly and maliciously attack'd me, than you'd
have been expected from one of his reputed Candour and Learning; and
given me greater Advantages to insult and triumph over him, than I
could wish or desire.

Many other little _Whifflers_ in Divinity have before attack'd me with
their _Squibs_ and _Squirts_ from the _Press_, but I despised them
all, as unworthy of my particular Regard and Notice, reserving my self
for Defence against this _Bishop_'s grand Assault; when, by the by, I
might have an Opportunity to animadvert on one or other of them. Some
of these _Whifflers_, like Men of Honour, have set their Names to
their Works; others very prudently have concealed their Names, which,
upon the best Enquiry I could make, I have not been able to discover,
or I had given them a Rebuke for their Impudence and Slanders. It may
be wonder'd, that any polemical Authors, especially when they write on
the orthodox and establish'd Side of the Question, should conceal
themselves, and that they are not tempted with the Hopes of Reward and
Applause to make themselves known. I will say what I think here, that
it's never Modesty in such _anonymous_ Authors (for we _Scribblers_ in
Divinity, whatever we may pretend, have always a good Conceit of our
selves) but Apprehensions of a sharp Reply to their Dishonour. And
this is the true Reason, why some of my Adversaries industriously
conceal themselves, knowing that they are guilty of wilful and
malicious Lies and Calumnies, which I should chastise them for. But,
as their Names are supprest, they know, it's to no Purpose for me to
expose their Malice, because no body can be put to shame for it.

The _Bishop_ of St. _David's_ acts here a more glorious Part: He comes
not behind me, like other _Cowards_, to give me a secret Knock on the
Pate, but like a courageous Champion, looks me in the Face, and
admonishes me to stand upon my Guard. This is bravely done in him! And
I have no Fault to find, but that he is providing himself with
_Seconds_ in the Controversy, I mean the _Civil Powers_, and calling
upon them to destroy me, before the Battle is well begun, and whether
he gets the better of me or not. This is not fairly nor honourably
done of the _Bishop_, and I have Reason to complain of it. Tho' I
think my self equal, if not superior in the Dispute, to any of our
_Bishops_, yet I am not a Match for the _King_'s Power, neither would
I lift up my Hand, or use my Pen against him for all the World. If the
_Bishop_ will yield to a fair Combat, and desire the Civil Authority
to stand by and see fair Play between us, I will engage with him upon
any Terms. But to make the _Civil Powers_ Parties in our Quarrel, and
to bespeak them, right or wrong, to favour his Side, is intolerable,
and what we spiritual Gladiators ought to abhor and detest.

I liked the _Bishop_, when he proposed to the _Queen_ to be _Arbitress_
of our Controversy. As I will not here question her Qualifications to
judge in it, so the first Opportunity I have of waiting on her
_Majesty_, I will join my Requests to her to accept of the Trouble and
Office. After she has fix'd the Terms of Disputation, and thought of a
proper Reward for the _Victor_, or a Punishment for the _Conquer'd_,
then will we proceed, and either dispute the Matter from the Press, or
scold it out in the Queen's Presence, as she shall think it most
conducive to the Edification of herself, and of her Court-Ladies.

But the _Bishop_'s Proposal here, and Compliment on the _Queen_, is but
the Copy of his Countenance. He'll submit to no Arbitration: No, no,
he's for having the Civil Powers to be immediate Executioners (without
further hearing what I have to say for my self) of his Wrath and
Vengeance upon me. He's for having them to take it for granted, that he
has proved me an _Infidel_ and _Blasphemer_, and would have them to
inflict some exemplary Punishment upon me, so as to incapacitate me for
ever writing more. Wherefore else does he say thus?[339] "Indeed a more
proper Occasion cannot possibly happen in a Nation, where Christianity
is establish'd by human _Laws_, to invigorate the Zeal of the
Magistrate, in putting the Laws in Execution against so flagrant a Sort
of Profaneness, that tramples with such Indignity on the Grounds of the
_Christian_ Faith; and to convince the World that the _Minister_ of that
_God_, who is so highly affronted, _bears not the Sword in vain_. And
certainly the Higher Powers have great Reason to exert their Authority
on this and the like Occasions."

I was astonish'd at this Passage, with some others, in the _Bishop_'s
_Dedication_, and could hardly believe my Eyes when I read it; that a
Scholar, a Christian, and a Protestant Bishop, should breath so much
Fury and Fire for the kindling again of _Smithfield_ Faggots! That any
Thing of human Shape should so thirst after that Destruction of another,
which would turn to the Ruin of his own Reputation and Honour! Does the
_Bishop_ believe that he has clearly confuted me, or does he not? If he
believes, and others know that I am absolutely confuted, then there's an
End of the Controversy, the Danger of my _blasphemous_ Books is over;
and why should I undergo any Punishment, which would move the Compassion
of many, and give a greater Reputation to my Writings than they do
deserve? Does the _Bishop_ think he has confuted me? This is Honour and
Triumph enough to him; who, of all Men, should not desire me to be
otherwise punish'd, for fear of getting the Character of a merciless and
implacable Conqueror. Am I in my own Opinion confuted and baffled? This
would be Pain and Mortification enough, even worse than Death. For,
however we polemical _Writers_ may pretend a Readiness to part with our
Errors upon Conviction, as if we could easily yield to our Adversaries,
yet it goes to the Hearts of us to be out-done in Reason and Argument.
As it is said of _Bishop Stillingfleet_, that, being sensible of his
Insufficiency to contend with Mr. _Lock_, he grieved and pined away upon
it: So I, upon Supposition the Bishop of St. _David's_ has confuted me,
must not only necessarily afflict my self, but undergo the Shame of the
Reproaches of the People, for my wicked and impotent Efforts to subvert
their Religion: And what would the _Bishop_ have more? He could desire
no more, if he had absolutely confuted me: But it's plain he dares not
trust to his own Confutation of me; it's plain he's afraid of, what he
is conscious may be made, a smart Reply to him, and therefore he calls
upon the Civil Magistrate for his Help to prevent it.

After that the _Bishop_ of _London_ had publish'd his _Pastoral
Letter_, and it was reported that the _Bishop_ of St. _David's_ was
preparing a strenuous Vindication of the _litteral_ Story of _Jesus_'s
Miracles, I concluded that the Prosecution would immediately be
dropp'd, and that the Clergy were betaking themselves to that
Christian, Rational, and Philosophical Course of Confutation, and
would no longer make use of Persecution, which is the Armour of hot,
furious, and ignorant Bigots. And there is one Passage in the
_Bishop_'s _Pastoral Letter_, which I interpreted as a Grant of full
Liberty; but, whether I am apt to mistake the Sense of the Fathers of
the _Primitive_ Church or not, I find I did misconstrue the Words of a
Father of our _English_ Church, and turn'd them to another and better
Purpose than he aim'd at. His Words are these[340] "And as to the
_blasphemous manner_, in which a late Writer has taken the Liberty to
treat our Saviour's Miracles, and the Author of them; tho' I am far
from contending, that the Grounds of the Christian Religion, and the
Doctrines of it, may not be discuss'd at all Times in a calm, decent,
and serious Way (on the contrary, I am sure that the more fully they
are discuss'd, the more firmly they will stand) yet I cannot but think
it the Duty of the Civil Magistrate, at all Times, to take Care that
Religion be not treated in a _ludicrous_ or _reproachful_ Manner, and
effectually to discourage such Books and Writings as strike equally at
the Foundation of all Religion, _&c._" What the _Bishop_ of _L._ here
says, of his _thinking it the Duty of the Civil Magistrate at all
Times, to take Care that Religion be not treated in a ludicrous
manner_, I understood as an Excuse for what he had done in stirring up
the Civil Magistrate to a Prosecution of me; and that now, like a
Philosopher, he was for letting Truth and Religion to take its Course,
and for leaving it to a free Discussion, whether in a _ludicrous_ or
in a _calm_, _decent_ or _serious_ Way. But I confess, I have mistaken
the _Bishop_'s Words, finding by Experience, that (for all the
natural Import of his Expression, that Liberty should be used to
discuss the Grounds of Religion in a _serious_ Manner) he'll no more
suffer it, if he can help it, to be contested in a _serious_, than in
a _ludicrous_ Way; wherefore else did he move for the Prosecution of a
late _London Journal_, which was all _calm_, _decent_, and _serious_
Argument. And the Bishop of St. _David's_ his furious _Dedication_
now, confirms me in this Opinion, that our _Clergy_ (for all their
preaching up Liberty with as much Force and Strength of Reason as any
Men, and for all their Invitations to _Infidels_, to say and print
their worst against Christianity) will by no means, if they can hinder
it, suffer any Attacks to be made upon their Religion, nor cease their
Importunities and Solicitations of the Civil Magistrate to
Persecution. Blessed be God, the _Bishops_ are not my _Judges_ as well
as my _Accusers_, or I know, what would become of me.

Mr. _Atkinson_, a little Writer against me, says,[341] "That I call
the pretended Divines of the Church my Prosecutors, when they were not
my Prosecutors. And _again_, That there was no need of my Supposition,
that the _Clergy_ would have more Wit than to prosecute me again for
this _Discourse_; for he did not know that they had been concern'd in
any Prosecution of me." And again he says, "If the Civil Magistrate
thinks it his Duty to chastise me for my Sin and Folly, I am to blame
my self, and not the _Clergy_, till I can prove the Zeal of our
Christian Government to be excited by the malign Influence of the
_Clergy_." Mr. _Atkinson_ is thus far certainly in the right on't,
that, strictly speaking, the _Clergy_ are not my Prosecutors, but the
King, who, in all probability, knows no more of my Books than the Man
in the Moon. But whether Mr. _Atkinson_ could be so ignorant, as not
to know the _Clergy_ were the grand Instigators to Prosecution, let
others judge. If he really was such a poor _Ignoramus_, I have no more
to say: Otherwise, his Expressions above, will be look'd upon as the
vilest Piece of Hypocrisy and Prevarication that can be, purposely
utter'd to take off the _Odium_ of the Prosecution from the _Clergy_,
and to cast it upon the Civil Government; which, whether Mr.
_Atkinson_ believes it or not, had never, but for the Solicitations of
the _Bishops_, given me any Trouble. Mr. _Atkinson_ above, acts the
Part of the Popish Clergy of _France_, upon the Revocation of the
Edict of _Nantes_. After that the King, upon the urgent Importunities
of the Clergy, had resolv'd to revoke that Edict; the Clergy were for
excusing themselves to the Protestants, and laying the Blame only on
the King, saying, _The King was bent and resolv'd on't, and they could
not help it_; which was such Jesuitical Prevarication in the Popish
Clergy, that the Protestants could not forbear _roguing_ them for it.
Mr. _Atkinson_ knows how to apply this Story; which I had not told,
but for the Use of the Bishop of _L._ who, upon a certain Occasion
could say, that it was not He, but the _Government_ that prosecuted
Mr. _Woolston_. If Mr. _Atkinson_ was really so ignorant as he seems
to be, I suppose he is now of another Mind, upon reading the _Bishop_
of St. _David's_ Dedication; and convinced that the Prosecution
against me was began and carried on at the _malign influence_, as he
calls it, of the Clergy.

I will here use no Arguments for Liberty of Debate, which Subject has
already been copiously handled, and wants nothing, that I can add unto
it. But before I enter into the Body of the _Bishop_'s Book, and upon
a profess'd Defence of my Discourses against him, let us consider the
manifest Lies, Prevarications, and wicked Insinuations in his
_Dedication_, whereby he would move the Secular Powers to a severe
Punishment of me. I will pass by the _Motto_ of his Book, _viz. But
Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a
Kiss_; Whereby he would signify and intimate, not to _Scholars_ (for
they have more Wit than to think the worse of me for his Abuse of
Scripture) but to the ignorant Multitude, that I am another _Judas_, a
Traitor and Rebel to _Jesus_. Commonly _Mottos_ of Books are suited to
their Authors, and the Design of them; whether the _Bishop_ will be
willing to take this _Motto_ to himself or not, I will upon another
Occasion give it a pleasant and pertinent Turn upon him. At present I
shall only say, what the Learned will observe, that _this_ is of a
wicked and malicious Use and Intention, of no less, than to create in
the Minds of the People an Hatred and Detestation of me; of no other,
than by dressing me up, as it were, in a Bear's Skin, to excite the
Ecclesiastical and merciless Mob to worry and destroy me. Such has
been the roguish Artifice of priests of all Ages, to represent their
Adversaries, whom they would destroy, under odious and borrow'd Names,
that their Persecutions of them might be thought the less cruel. But
passing this by for the present, the

I. First wicked and wilful Misrepresentation that the _Bishop_, in his
Dedication, has made of me, is that of being an _Infidel_, and an
_Apostate_ Clergyman. Wherefore else does he say thus to the Queen:
"What is now presented to your Royal View, is an Apologetical Defence
of our holy Religion, against one of the most virulent Libels on it,
by an _Apostate Clergyman_, that has appear'd in any Christian
Country; and in Comparison of which, other _Infidels_ have acted a
modest Part." And again he calls my _Discourses_, "A flagrant Sort of
Profaneness, that tramples with Indignity on the Grounds of the
Christian Faith." And again he signifies, "That I am warmly engaged in
subverting the Christian Religion, and active in propagating
Infidelity." This is all wilful and downright Calumny, to incense the
Queen and the Government against me. The _Bishop_ knows in his Heart
that I am no _Infidel_, but a Believer of Christianity,
notwithstanding my _Discourses_ on Miracles, that have occasion'd such
a Clamour against me. In my _Discourses_, I have repeatedly and most
solemnly declared, that my Designs are not to do Service to
Infidelity, but to advance the Glory of God, the Truth of
Christianity, and to demonstrate the _Messiahship_ of the holy
_Jesus_. If I have sometimes ridiculed the litteral Story of our
Saviour's Miracles, I have profess'd as often that it was with Design
to turn Men's Hearts to the mystical Interpretation of them, on which
alone _Jesus_'s Authority and Messiahship is founded. I could collect
a great Number of Passages out of my _Discourses_ to this Purpose, if
it would not be wasting of Time and Paper. And do all these solemn
Declarations of my Faith, and of the Integrity of my Heart, and of the
Sincerity of my Intentions, stand for nothing? Why should not my Word
here be taken? I can think of no other Reason, than because some other
Folks are accustom'd to dissemble and prevaricate with God and Man in
their Oaths and Subscriptions, therefore I may be suspected here of
Hypocrisy, notwithstanding my Professions to the contrary.

Besides, the _Bishop_ knows by my other Writings, that I am certainly
a Christian, and a true Believer of the Religion of Christ, though I
may have some different Conceptions from other Men about it. It has
been my good Luck before, not only to publish more Treatises purposely
and professedly in Defence of Christianity, than any _Bishop_ in
_England_; but some of them are of such a Nature, as it's impossible
for a Man to write without being a Christian, and impossible for him
to depart from the Principles of them. This is my good Fortune and
Happiness at this Juncture. The _Bishop_ has perused, I see, some of
my other Writings, and particularly, my _Old Apology for the Truth of
Christianity revived_; and to his Praise, as well as my Comfort be it
spoken, he apprehends and rightly relishes it. And as I was well
pleased with his Representation of the Design of that Book, from the
Principles and allegorical Scheme of which, he says (in Twenty-four
Years since) I am not departed; so I would appeal to his Conscience,
Whether a Man, who wrote, as I did then, of the Typical and Antitupal
Deliverance of the _Jewish_ and _Christian_ Church, can possibly be an
Infidel, or ever depart from the Christian Faith? If the _Bishop_ has
Ingenuity equal to his Penetration into that Book, he must own and
confess to the World, that I was then, and am still a Christian, a Man
of fix'd and unalterable Principles from that Day to this.

The _Bishop_ would be thought in his _Preface_ to enumerate all my
Writings; but there are three others, whether wilfully or negligently
omitted by him, I know not, that are direct Defences of the Truth of
Christianity; and there is not a learned _Clergy-man_ in _England_ (I
humbly presume to say it) who can read them, and not applaud them. If
the _Bishop_ will be pleas'd to read one of them, _viz. The Defence of
the Miracle of the Thundering Legion_, and say it from his Heart, that
I might write that Book, and believe the Ecclesiastical Story of that
Miracle, and yet be no Christian, then I will yield to his Accusation
against me for Infidelity.

But why do I trouble my self thus to assert and vindicate my Belief of
Christianity? The _Bishop_ would readily come into the Acknowledgment
of my being a sincere Christian, but for his Interests and Prejudices,
and other political Considerations, which influence him and the
_Clergy_ so to decry and defame me, that, if possible, I must be
destroy'd, or at least have my Mouth stopp'd.

In short then, it is not because I am an _Infidel_, that the _Clergy_
so exclaim against me and my _Discourses_; but because, as a
Christian, I have particular Designs in view, which, if I can compass,
will tend to their Dishonour, and the Ruin of their Interests; and
therefore, by Defamations and Prosecutions, they will, if they can,
in time put a stop to them. The Designs that, for the Truth of
Religion, and Good of Mankind, I have in view, and which, maugre all
Opposition, Terrors, and Sufferings, I will pursue to the utmost of my
Power, are these three.

1. To restore the Allegorical Interpretation of the Old and New
Testament, that is call'd, say the Fathers, the sublime Mountain of
Vision, on which we shall contemplate the Wisdom and Beauty of the
Providence of God; and behold the glorious Transfiguration of _Jesus_
with _Moses_ and _Elias_, that is, the Harmony between the Gospel and
the Law and the Prophets, agreeably to _Jesus_'s typical
Transfiguration. And this is such a glorious and beatifick Vision,
that it's enough to ravish our Hearts with the Hopes and Desires of
attaining to it. The old _Jews_ say, that the allegorical
Interpretation of the Scriptures will lead us to the sight of God and
convert even _Atheists_. The Fathers say, that the allegorical
Interpretation will be the Conversion of the _Jews_ in the Perfection
of Time; and St. _Augustin_ speaks of a great allegorical
_Genius_,[342] that will be sent to that Purpose. I believe all this,
and being convinced of the Truth of it, I am much addicted to
Allegories. And it is plain enough, and wants no Proof, that the
Revival of the allegorical Scheme, which I am fond of, portends Ruin
to the _Ministry of the Letter_; and will be such an Argument of the
Ignorance and Apostacy of our _Clergy_, that it's no wonder they
defame, calumniate, and persecute me for my Attempts towards it.

_Origen_ says,[343] that _litteral Interpreters will run into
Infidelity_, which is a Saying I am well pleased with, and thereupon
will try if I can't turn the Tables upon our _Clergy_; I'll try if I
can't shift from my self the present Load of Reproaches for Infidelity,
and lay it upon them. What would the Wife and the Learned then say? That
the great _Bishops_ of _London_ and St. _David's_ had caught a _Tartar_.

I have indeed ludicrously treated the Letter of the Scriptures (in my
_Discourses_) which by the said _Bishops_ is falsly called
_Blasphemy_: But should they either _ludicrously_ or _sedately_ write
against the allegorical Sense of them, I could prove _that_ to be
real _Blasphemy_. However, I would not complain to the Civil Powers
against them; no, it's God's peculiar Prerogative to punish that Sin,
which ought not to be committed to the Care of the Civil Magistrate.

But what need I _ludicrously_ to handle the Letter of our Saviour's
Miracles? Because some Sort of Stories are the proper Subjects of
_Ridicule_; and because, _Ridiculum acri fortius & melius_, Ridicule
will cut the Pate of an Ecclesiastical Numbskull, which calm and
sedate Reasoning will make no Impression on.

To speak then the Truth in few Words. As I am resolv'd at any Rate to
run down the _Letter_, in order to make way for the _Spirit_ of the
Scriptures, so certainly will our Clergy, for their Interests and
Honour, as Ministers of the Letter, vilify and reproach me, and pursue
me with an implacable Hatred: But I should think it meet for them to
use a little more Temper in their Revilings, for fear the Torrent of
Reproaches should sometime or other turn on them. It is asserted and
predicted by the Fathers that, after a certain Time of the Church's
Apostacy to the _Letter_, the _Spirit of Life_, or the allegorical
Sense will re-enter the Scriptures, to the Advancement of divine
Knowledge and true Religion; in the mean while the _Clergy_ will do
well to see to it. But,

2. The Second Design which, as a Christian, I have in View, and which
occasionally I write for, is an universal and unbounded Toleration of
Religion, without any Restrictions or Impositions on Men's
Consciences; for which Design, the _Clergy_ will hate and defame me,
and, if possible, make an Infidel of me, as well as for the former.
Upon an universal Toleration the World would be at quiet: That Hatred
of one another, which is now so visible among different Sects, would
then be terminated by a Unity of their Interests, when they are all
upon the Level in the Eye of the Civil Magistrate, who would choose
Men to Places of Trust, not for their Faith and Affection to
Theological Doctrines, but for their Abilities to serve the Publick.
In this Case, Ten thousand different _Notions_ in Religion would no
more obstruct the Welfare of the Community, than so many different
_Noses_ do the Happiness of this City. The Variety of their
Theological Opinions, would be the Diversion and Amusement of each
other; and so long as it was out of their Power to oppress, they could
not hate one another for them. Such a Toleration, the _Clergy_ would
persuade us, tends to Confusion and Distraction, as if Men would go to
_Loggerheads_ upon it. But this is one of their Mistakes; there would
be a perfect Calm upon it, if such Incendiaries as they are did not
disturb the publick Tranquillity. They'll tell us again, that such a
Toleration makes Way for Dissoluteness of Morals, and would let in Sin
like a Deluge upon us; but this is another of their Errors. Such a
Toleration would promote Virtue, in as much as different Sects of
Religion are a Check upon each other against Looseness of Morals,
because every Sect would endeavour to approve itself above others, by
the Goodness of their Lives, as well as by the Excellency of their
Doctrine. But the _Clergy_ will never hearken to such a Toleration,
because it would be the Downfall of Ecclesiastical Power; for which
Reason, among many others, I am

3. For the Abolition of an hired and establish'd Priesthood. And for
this, if for nothing else, I am sure to be prosecuted with Hatred and
Violence, and loaded with the Calumnies and Reproaches of Infidelity
and Blasphemy: And the _Clergy_, if possible, will have my Mouth
stopp'd, and my Hands tied, before I proceed too far in my Labours
and Endeavours to this End.

And why should not the _Clergy_ of the Church of _England_ be turn'd
to Grass, and be made to seek their Fortune among the People, as well
as Preachers of other Denominations? Where's the Sense and Reason of
imposing Parochial _Priests_ upon the People to take care of their
Souls, more than Parochial _Lawyers_ to look to their Estates, or
Parochial _Physicians_ to attend their Bodies, or Parochial _Tinkers_
to mend their Kettles? In secular Affairs every Man chooses the Artist
and Mechanick that he likes best; so much more ought he in Spirituals,
in as much as the Welfare of the Soul is of greater Importance than
that of the Body or Estate. The Church-Lands would go a good, if not a
full Step, towards the Payment of the Nation's Debts.

I have promised the World, what, by the Assistance of God, and the
Leave of the Government, shall be publish'd, a _Discourse_ on the
Mischiefs and Inconveniencies of an Hired and Establish'd Priesthood:
In which it shall be shewn,

I. That the Preachers of Christianity in the first Ages of the Church
(when the Gospel was far and near spread, and triumph'd over all
Opposition of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_) neither received nor insisted on
any Wages for their Pains, but were against preaching for Hire; and,
as if they had been endew'd with the Spirit of Prophecy, before an
Hireling Priesthood was establish'd, predicted their Abolition and
Ejection out of Christ's Church.

II. That since the Establishment of an _Hire_ for the Priesthood, the
Progress of Christianity has not only been stopt, but lost Ground; the
Avarice, Ambition, and Power of the Clergy having been of such
unspeakable Mischief to the World, as is enough to make a Man's
Heartake to think, read, or write of.

III. That upon an Abolition of our present establish'd Priesthood, and
on God's Call of his own Ministers, the Profession of the Gospel will
again spread; and Virtue, Religion, and Learning, will more than ever
flourish and abound.

The Clergy are forewarn'd of my Design to publish such a _Discourse_;
and this is the secret Reason, whatever openly they may pretend, of
their Accusations against me for Blasphemy and Infidelity. Their Zeal
and Industry will be never wanting to prevent the Publication of this
_Discourse_; neither need I doubt of Persecution, if they can excite
the Government to it, to that End.

In my first Discourse on Miracles, I happen'd to treat on that of
Jesus's driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple; which, upon
the Authority of the Fathers, I shew'd to be a Figure of his future
Ejection of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons out of his Church, for
making Merchandise of the Gospel. The _Bishop_ has taken me and that
Miracle to task; and if ever any Man smiled at another's Impertinence,
I then heartily laugh'd when I read him. I begg'd of the _Bishop_
before-hand[344] not to meddle with that Miracle, because it was a hot
one, and would burn his Fingers. But for all my Caution; he has been
so Fool-hardy, as to venture upon it; but has really touch'd and
handled it, as if it was a _burning Coal_. He takes it up, and as soon
drops it again to blow his Fingers; then endeavours to throw a little
Water on _this_ and _that_ Part of it to cool it, but all would not
do. The most fiery Part of it, _viz._ that of its being a Type of
Jesus's future Ejection of mercenary Preachers out of the Church, he
has not, I may say it, at all touch'd, except by calling it[345] _my
allegorical Invective against the Maintenance of the Clergy_; which is
such a Piece of _Corinthian_ Effrontery in the _Bishop_, that was he
not resolv'd to lye and defame at all Rates, for the Support of their
Interests, he could never have had the Face to have utter'd. If the
_Bishop_ had proved that _that_ Miracle (which litterally was such
a----, as I dare not now call it) neither was nor could be a Shadow
and Resemblance of Jesus's Ejection of hired Priests out of the Church
at his second Advent, and that the Fathers were not of this Opinion,
he had knock'd me down at once. As he has done nothing of this, so he
might have spared his Pains in Support of the Letter of this Story.
But I shall have a great deal of Diversion with the _Bishop_, when I
come, in a proper Place, to defend my Exposition of that Miracle. In
the mean Time, as the Bishop has publish'd one of the Articles of my
Christian Faith, thinking to render me odious for it; so here I will
insert another, _viz._[346] "I believe upon the Authority of the
Fathers, that the Spirit and Power of Jesus will _soon_ enter the
Church, and expel Hireling Priests, who make Merchandise of the
Gospel, out of her, after the manner he is supposed to have driven the
_Buyers_ and _Sellers_ out of the Temple."

Now upon all this, whether the _Bishop_, modestly speaking, has not been
unjust, uncharitable, and insincere, to represent me as an _Infidel_, I
appeal to all learned and ingenuous Gentlemen. I am a Christian, though
not upon the _litteral_ Scheme, which I nauseate, yet upon the
_allegorical_ one. And by the following easy and short Argument it may
be proved that I am most certainly a Christian. I heartily and zealously
contend for the allegorical Interpretation of the Scriptures, which the
_Bishop_ allows to be true of me; consequently I must, and do believe
the Scriptures to be of divine Inspiration, or I could not think there
were such Mysteries and Prophecy latent under the Letter of them.
Whether then a Believer of the divine Inspiration of the Scriptures can
be an Infidel (O most monstrous Paradox!) or any other than a Christian,
judge Readers. Nay, if _Origen_'s and St. _Augustin_'s Testimony on my
Behalf may be admitted, I am more truly a Christian and Disciple of the
Holy Jesus, than any _litteral Schemist_ can be. _Origen_ says,[347]
That the Perfection of Christianity consists in a mystical
Interpretation of the Old and New Testament, of the Historical, as well
as other Parts of it. And St. _Augustin_ says,[348] That they who attain
to the Understanding of the spiritual Signification of Jesus's Miracles,
are the best Doctors in his School. The _Bishop_ understands this
Argument as well as any Man, and therefore I charge it home upon him, as
a wilful and malicious Slander, to call and account me an Infidel in his
_Dedication_, on purpose to incense the Government against me at this

But the _Bishop_ moreover calls me, as above, an _Apostate Clergyman_;
And why so? Because I have deserted the _Ministry of the Letter_, and
betaken my self to the _Ministry of the Spirit_ of the Scriptures.
That's like the Wit and Reasoning of his Pate! The _Bishop_ is old
enough, and has read enough to know that _Apostacy_, in the Sense of
the Fathers, is a Desertion of the _Ministry of the Spirit_, and a
Falling into the _Ministry of the Letter_ of the Scriptures; whereupon
I make bold to retort upon the _Bishop_, and say of him, and his
Episcopal Brethren, that they are _Apostate Bishops_.

But to humour the _Bishop_ in his fond _Dedication_, I will suppose my
self to be, what I am the farthest of any Man living from being, an
_Infidel_ and _Apostate_; yet

II. The _Bishop_ is a wilful Calumniator, or, at best, an unhappy
Misrepresenter of me, and of other Infidels, saying in his
_Dedication_, that our Design is _To sap the Foundation of all
Government_, and----_That we were pursuing such Methods, as have a
natural Tendency to introduce Confusion_. If this was true of us
Infidels (for now I speak of my self as one of them) it behoves Civil
Governors to look about them, and to punish and suppress us with all
speed; and we should be the most unreasonable Men alive, if we
complain'd of Persecution, or call'd it hard Usage. And the _Bishop_
of _London_, and other _Divines_ (like this _Bishop_) do commonly
declaim on the Danger of Infidelity to Civil Society, but this is all
Ecclesiastical Cant and Jargon. I thought I had given[349] the
_Bishop_ of _London_ so much on this Head of Complaint against
Infidelity, as I could not suppose the _Bishop_ of St. _David's_ would
ever have repeated it. It is true, what the _Bishop_ says, that
_Religion is the firmest Support of Government_, and _Christianity
especially lays the greatest Obligations, on Men's Consciences, of
Obedience to the Civil Powers_. I believe all this, and that the
better Christians Men are, the more quiet, peaceable, and useful
Subjects, and the greater Friends would they be to the Civil
Authority. But does it follow from hence, that we _Infidels_, because
we have rejected the Belief of some systematical Divinity, as the
_Clergy_ are fond of, should consequently be Enemies to the Civil
Government, and Foes to the Peace, Order, and Welfare of Society? O
fie upon the Drawers of such Consequences! We are, I believe, a
numerous and growing Sect in these Nations, though I am acquainted
with none, no, not so much as with the Great Mr. _Grounds_: But I
could never perceive that any of us, in Principle, were against Civil
Government, and the Welfare of the Community; or were for _Confusion_,
for setting the People together by the Ears, to the Disturbance of the
publick Peace and Tranquillity. No, no, our Interests in the World, as
well as other Men's, oblige us to consult the publick Welfare; and
our Consciences, from the Religion of Nature, bind us to Obedience to
Government; and, was it not agreeable to our Inclination, the
Necessity of Affairs would force us to be as quiet and obedient as are
any Christians: And I thank God, we have hitherto behaved our selves
very peaceably, clear of all Suspicion of Treason and Rebellion to any
Prince or State. The _Bishop_ hints at Experience to the contrary, but
it will puzzle him to give an Instance. One would think, by this
common Harangue, of _Ecclesiasticks_ against us _Infidels_, that
Christians, especially the Priesthood, being, as the _Bishop_ says,
both _under the Penalties of human Laws, and the stronger Impressions
of a future State_, were of a Lamb-like Nature, and never given to
disturb the Civil Authority: And I will own the Christian _Laity_
might be acquitted here, but for the _Clergy_, who have been
repeatedly the _Pest_ and _Bane_ of human Society, the Trumpeters of
Sedition and Rebellion, and mere Make-bates in Cities and Families.
And I dare say, that if the Civil Powers don't curb, and keep our
_Priesthood_ in awe, they will upon this present Occasion be the
Disturbers of the publick Peace. So little Sense and Truth is there
in the _Bishop_'s present Invective against us Infidels! If he had not
been infatuated to a Forgetfulness of the _Rogueries_ of Priests, in
all Ages, against the Civil Powers, he could never have insinuated
such a groundless and senseless Charge against us, to the Provocation
of the Civil Magistrate to fall on us. But

III. The _Bishop_ calumniates us Infidels (for against his Conscience,
whether I will or not, he will have me to be one of them) not only for
being Enemies to Government in general, which he will have us to
advance Principles destructive of; but insinuates and asserts that we
are disaffected to the particular and present Government of these
Kingdoms, saying, that as "we are active in propagating Infidelity, we
do in the last Resort, not only insult the Title of _Defender of the
Faith_, but undermine the undoubted Right of his Majesty and his Royal
Family to the Crown of these Realms, as it is founded on the
Profession of _Christianity_, reform'd, and now legally settled among
us; and therefore Persons of that Character may well be consider'd, as
equally false to the Author of our Faith, and to the present
Government.----Therefore in a just Sense of that Allegiance which is
due to the King, and for the Security of your Majesties, and the
Royal Family, and thereby of the Publick it self, as well as out of a
deep Concern for the Honour and Preservation of our most holy Faith,
the ensuing Treatise is now offer'd, under your Majesty's Protection,
to the View of the Publick." This is all such foolish and manifest
Slander, that I can't but think the _Bishop_ mad with Rage and
Indignation at me, when he writ it. I dare say the _Queen_, who is
firmly attach'd to the Interests of the Christian and Protestant
Religion, did, when she read all this, almost grieve for the _Bishop_,
and pity him for his Weakness and Ignorance. It is a _Maxim_ among all
Parties, that _Infidels_ are heartily affected to the present
Establishment of the State; yea, so far a _Maxim_, that _Jacobites_
and _High-Church-men_ are apt to accuse all the well-affected to the
Government, of Infidelity. From none of the Writings or Practice of
Infidels, much less of my self, could the _Bishop_ gather any of these
his _childish_ Surmises. The Government, since the Succession of the
Illustrious House of _Hanover_, has been twice attempted to be
disturb'd, and both times by profess'd Christians. The Rebellion at
_Preston_ consisted of _Papists_ and _High-Church-men_, and tho'
there were but few _Clergy-men_ in Arms, yet they were join'd with the
Prayers and Wishes of many Thousands of the _Clergy_, and even, as it
was suspected, of some _Oxonian Bishops_. Bishop _Atterbury_'s Plot
too consisted of Rebellious Christians, without the least intermixture
of us _Infidels_, who are the more zealously affected to the
Government, because of the Danger it is sometimes in from the
_High-Church Clergy_. Away then with the _Bishop_'s Slander, which,
for all we may be Unbelievers of Christianity, our Civil Magistrates
will laugh at and deride him for. But,

IV. Another Misrepresentation, more foolish and absurd than the former,
that the _Bishop_ has made of us _Infidels_, is, that we are making Way
for Popery and Slavery: For thus he says of us, "Nothing is more
demonstrable, than that those Adversaries (meaning us _Infidels_) of the
Christian Religion, who are now so busily employ'd in infusing Doubts
into some weak Minds, in giving an Indifference and Coldness to other
well-meaning Persons, and in making others, that are viciously inclin'd,
actual Proselites to Infidelity, are pursuing such Methods as have a
natural Tendency to introduce Confusion, and thereby betray us into
_Popery_." And again he says of Infidels, "That in Consequence of their
own Infidelity, and their wicked Diligence in spreading that Infection,
are bringing in upon us the real Persecutions of the Church of _Rome_;
who likewise, whilst they rail so plentifully at the most rational
Religion in the World as Superstition, give great Advantages towards
restoring the insupportable _Superstitions_ of that Communion. These are
the Persons indeed that appear in favour of an unbounded Liberty, but
God grant it may not terminate in an absolute _Slavery_." _Risum quis
tenerat?_ Who in his Wits could write such Stuff? And who without
Impatience can read it? I was going about a particular Dissection of
these two Paragraphs, and to lay open the Wit, Sense, and Oratory of the
_Bishop_, to the Contemplation of his Admirers; but I find it
unnecessary, as well as tedious to do it: The very transcribing of them,
and exposing them to View, is enough to render him ridiculous. If there
be no more danger of Popery, Slavery, Superstition, Tyranny, and real
Persecution from our _Clergy_, than from us _Infidels_, the Nation is
safe. _Infidels_ find too much Inconvenience in the Power, Craft, and
Follies of a Protestant _Clergy_, to make Way for _Popery_; which, as
the _Bishop_ rightly says, is a _Complication_ of Errors. There are,
what the _Bishop_ should have thought of, many Protestant Priests for an
Accommodation with the Church of _Rome_; and, if I mistake not, upon
such easy Terms as _this_, _viz._ If she'll but part with some of her
Superstitions that are of no Use to her; our _Clergy_ will admit of
others as will be of Advantage to them. But _Infidels_ are
irreconcilable Enemies to the Church of _Rome_, and so far from Wishes
and Endeavours to restore Popery, that it is mere Nonsense to charge
them with either direct or consequential Designs so to enslave Mankind.

V. The _Bishop_ says, that we Infidels (for I am one it seems) _labour
industriously to root out all Sense of Virtue and Religion among us_.
This is sad indeed, if true; and very bad Men should we be, and
deserving of the worst Punishment. But this wants Proof. How does he
know that we are for rooting out all Sense of Virtue and Religion
amongst Men? Does it appear so by our Writings or our Practices? Does he
find in our Books any Exhortations to Looseness and Immorality? Nothing
of this I am sure. Is he then so well acquainted with Infidels, as to
know them to be of more depraved and debauch'd Lives than profess'd
Christians? Nor this neither. I have not as yet heard that any of my
Disciples have been hang'd, lamenting his Misfortune of reading my
_Discourses_, as what encouraged him to Sin, and brought him to the
Gallows. No, those unhappy People, hitherto, die in the Faith and
Communion of the Church, either of _England_ or of _Rome_, and hope to
be saved through the Merits of their Saviour, Neither do, I hear of any
Gentleman, old or young, who has given a greater Loose to his Lusts and
Passions, since he read my Books. Such News would trouble me.

But because of this Out-cry of the _Bishop_, and of other Preachers
against us, that we labour industriously to root out all Sense of
Virtue and Religion amongst Men, I wish (for Proof) that _Infidels_
were distinguishable from Christians, that a Comparison might be made,
and the Difference discern'd between them, as to true Religion and
Virtue. Tho' I am one of little Acquaintance with Infidels, yet it is
my Opinion that, on this Score, they may vie with, and, all things
consider'd, do surpass Christians. One would think, by the _Bishop_'s
Insinuation above, that none but _good_ People were of his Christian
Faith; and that all Infidels were profligate Sinners; but he knows
better, and what's more, he should have been more ingenuous than to
charge _Infidels_ with _Labours to root out all Sense of Virtue and
Religion amongst Men_, if it was but in Regard to that learned
Gentleman who is supposed to be at the Head of Infidelity, and who,
they say, is as exemplary for all social Virtues, as any _Bishop_; and
dislikes Vice and Immorality as much as any Saint can do.

Whatever be the _Virtue_ and _Religion_ of _Infidels_, it is all
genuine, natural, and sincere; and consequently more Praise-worthy than
_that_ of hired Priests, who may be suspected of Hypocrisy, because of
their Interests. I heard a wild Spark say, that he could be as grave as
the _Bishop_ of _London_, if he was but as well paid for it. Whether he
believ'd the _Bishop_ would have been as loose as himself, but for his
_Hire_, I can't tell. But this is certain that, what can't be said of
Infidels, there are Priests who put on the Face and Form of Godliness,
and want the Life and Power of it; who lift up their Hands and Eyes unto
God, when their Hearts are far from him; and were not their Interests
more than their Faith, a Restraint to their Lusts, it is commonly
believ'd they would be a Company of loose _Blades_.

What a Pother is here of the Danger and Mischief of Infidelity to
Church and State? Do but take away the Cause of Infidelity, and the
Effect ceases. And what is the Cause of Infidelity? Why, what _Origen_
predicted, I experience to be true, that the _Ministry of the Letter_
is the Cause of it; and I appeal to Mr. _Grounds_, Whether litteral
Expositions on the Scripture, and the absurd Doctrines which the
_Clergy_ have built upon the _Letter_, have not been one Cause of his
calling into Question, the Truth of Christianity, and the divine
Inspiration of the holy Scriptures? But this is not the only Cause of
Infidelity; there are other grand ones, which Dr. _Moore_ writes of,
saying thus:[350] "That Men are exceedingly tempted to think the whole
Business of Religion is at best but a Plot to enrich the Priests, and
keep the People in awe, from observing that they, who make the
greatest Noise about Religion, and are the most zealous therein, do
neglect the Laws of Honesty and common Humanity; that they easily
invade other Men's Rights; that they juggle, dissemble, and lye for
Advantage; that they are proud, conceited, love the Applause of the
People, are envious, fierce, and implacable, unclean and sensual,
merciless and cruel; care not to have Kingdoms flow in Blood, for
maintaining their Tyranny over the Consciences of poor deluded Souls."
If then there is any Danger of any kind in Infidelity, let the
_Clergy_ take the Blame and Shame of it to themselves, and not lay
that Fault, which is their own, upon other Men.

But observing that Dr. _Moore_ above speaks of Priests, their
_neglecting the Laws of Honesty_ and _common Humanity_, as a Cause of
Infidelity, I must here do a piece of Justice to Infidels, who place
the very _Essence_ of all Religion (as I believe the Essence of
Christianity consists) in _common Honesty_. If they keep to their
Principles, and act agreeably, they will work such a Reformation in
the World for the better, as the _Priests_ of all Ages have not been
able to do. The _Clergy_ have made such a Noise in the World about
_Faith_ and _Doctrine_, that the People hardly think they need be
_Honest_ to be good Christians and even many _Clergy-men_ are
conceited of their being _orthodox_ and _sound Divines_, though by
their Dishonesty, Profuseness, and Neglect of a Provision for their
Families, they have, in the Judgment of[351] St. _Paul_, deny'd the
Faith, and are worse than Infidels.

And thus have I consider'd the Slanders and Misrepresentations of my
self and Infidels, contain'd in the _Bishop_'s _Dedication_ to the
_Queen_, which entirely is such a Piece of Fury, Railing, and
Impertinence, as a Man shall hardly meet with. Surely he was not awake
when he wrote his _Dedication_, it is so like the _Dream_ of a
disorder'd Brain which consists of confused Notions, and scatter'd
Ideas, that are never to be so compacted together, as to make tolerable
Sense, Reason, and Truth. If I had not met with much such flaming Stuff
in the Body of his Book, I should have suspected that some-body, more a
Foe than a Friend to him, had palm'd it upon him, and over-persuaded him
to print it, as what would recommend him to her Majesty's Favour.

Whether he'll merit a _Translation_ to an _Arch-Bishoprick_, for this
Dedication, with me is no Question. For all he may take me for his
Enemy, I wish him _translated_, as certainly as the Government has
_transported_ some other Folks, who are no more the Bane of Society.
_Buggs_ in a House, and _Caterpillars_ in a Garden, are not a greater
Grievance, than some sort of Ecclesiastical _Vermin_ in Christ's
Church and Vineyard.

That the _Bishop_ himself admires his _Dedication_, and is pleas'd
with it, I don't doubt. Like as _Bears_ are fond of their ill-favour'd
_Cubbs_, so the Brats of some Men's Brains, as well as those of their
Bodies, are pleasing to than; and however deform'd and irrational in
themselves, are hugg'd by them as so many Wits and Beauties. But
whether many, beside the _Bishop_ himself, will like his _Dedication_,
is a great Question. I don't doubt, but there may be some for
Persecution as well as the _Bishop_, and so far may approve of the
_Dedication_: But whether there is any one that can think, he has not
greatly injured _Infidels_, and made a false Representation of them,
for being Enemies to our Civil Government, and to our present
Establishment, can't surely be question'd. If he be not look'd upon
here, by all Mankind, as a wilful and malicious Misrepresenter of
them, I shall much wonder at it.

But what's the _Dedication_ to the Book it self, will some here say?
Tho' the _Bishop_ may have made some Slips in his _Dedication_ which
betray Weakness and Ignorance; yet his following Performance may be
Strenuous and Nervous, and a compleat Confutation of my _Discourses_. I
answer, that such a Dedication bodes ill to the Book; and a Man may as
well expect to find the inside of a House beautiful and richly adorn'd,
when the Porch and Entrance into it is mean and nasty; as that an
admirable Treatise for Wit, Reason, and Learning, should follow upon
such a poor, simple, and insipid _Dedication_. Commonly Authors take
more care in their _Dedications_, than in their following Treatise; that
is, they see better to the Accuracy of their Expressions, the Exactness
of their Stile, and Beauty of their Thoughts; and if they err at all in
them, it is only in Flattery, and excess of Compliments on their
Patrons. Such Care too, after the best manner he was able, has the
_Bishop_ taken in his _Dedication_ above; and whatever his Readers and
Admirers may think, the _Dedication_ is the best Part of the Book. The
Exceptions I have taken at the _Dedication_ are but small, in Comparison
of the Faults I shall find and expose in the _Book_ it self; which is
such a Complication of Impertinence and Errors, of Rage and Confidence,
and of Calumnies and Reproaches, as is not to be equall'd; and is so
far from deserving the Character of a Confutation of my _Discourses_,
that it has done them Service; and will be, after the Animadversions I
shall make on it, a Confirmation of the Goodness, Usefulness, and
Excellency of my Design in them.

I have not here room to make a compleat Dissection of the _Bishop_'s
Work, and to display its Insufficiency, in answer to my _Discourses_;
neither was it my Design in this _first Part_ of my _Defence_ to do
it. But however, I will spare a Place here for a short Character and
Representation of his Performance, which take as follows.

    "The _Bishop_'s sole Aim and Design is to vindicate the _litteral
    Story_ of our Saviour's Miracles, against my rational and
    authoritative Objections to it. And to this Purpose he wrangles with
    me, where he can, about the Sense of this and that Citation out of
    the Fathers; and after he has forc'd another Sense on it, than the
    Words do naturally bear, then he insults me for a Misrepresentation.
    And where he meets with a plain Testimony out of the Fathers, which
    he can't mangle nor strain to his Purpose, he fluently passes by it;
    tho' he would have his _Readers_ to believe, he has vindicated the
    litteral Story against my Authorities, and shewn that the Fathers
    were all on his Side.

     "He complains of my Mutilations of the Fathers, and of making too
     curt Citations out of them; which is true, but more to my own
     Disadvantage than to his. But, what is Matter of grand Triumph to
     the _Bishop_, is, that I have quoted _spurious_ Works of the
     Fathers for _genuine_ ones. And here he takes great Pains, and
     wastes Time and Paper, to prove that _this_ and _that_ Book does
     not belong to the Author under whose Name I cite it; and then has a
     Fling at me for want of Skill in _Criticism_. But can the _Bishop_
     be so weak, as to think, I did not know when I quoted a _spurious_
     Work? Supposing the _Book_ I quoted do not belong to the reputed
     Author, but to some other Writer, what's that to the Question
     between us? The Citation is no less the Testimony of Antiquity, and
     it's no matter whose Name it bears. If the _Bishop_ had thought a
     little on this, he might have spared some Sheets of Paper, which he
     has in vain wasted, to the Loss of his Readers Time and Money.

     "Again, where my rational Arguments against the _Letter_ seem to
     the _Bishop_ to be weak and inconclusive; there, to do him
     Justice, he handsomly turns upon me with his Reasoning, and
     admonishes me of my Spitefulness against the _Letter_, or I would
     never use such a slight Argument. But where I pinch and bear hard
     upon the _Letter_, and the Jest is not to be digested, there,
     instead of Reasoning against me, he makes a hideous Out-cry of
     Buffoonery, Blasphemy, and Infidelity; and calls upon the Civil
     Magistrate for his Help, or their Religion, and their _All_ is in
     Danger, through the impious Writings of untoward Infidels.

     "The _Bishop_ in some Cases gives up the Cause, and seems himself
     to be almost ashamed of the _Letter_; and for the Maintenance of
     the Honour of _Jesus_, and the Dignity of his miraculous Operation,
     flies to Allegory; allowing that _this_ and _that_ Miracle might be
     typical and figurative of somewhat else, as his Thoughts did
     suggest to him. But here he discovers his poor Talent at
     Allegories, making no more Resemblance between the _Type_ and
     _Antitype_, than between an _Apple_ and an _Oyster_.

     "I am repeatedly charg'd by the _Bishop_ with Infidelity, for
     writing against the _Letter_, tho' I am as grave as a Judge at the
     allegorical Interpretation; and he can't but know that Infidelity
     and Allegorism are incompatible in the same Person. To prove me an
     Infidel, he should have shewn that I meant to pour Contempt upon
     the allegorical, as well as litteral Sense of Jesus's Miracles; but
     he has not once hinted at this. A certain great Writer, call'd Mr.
     _Grounds_, plays a double Game upon the _Clergy_, he laughs at the
     _allegorical_ as well as _litteral_ Scheme, and distresses the
     _Clergy_ with his Objections against both. But I have not done so;
     I really am, or seem to be, a sincere Contender for the allegorical
     Sense. And to make an _Infidel_ of an _Allegorist_, is more
     difficult and impossible than to make a _Monkey_ of a _Bishop_.

     "The _Bishop_, as a _Minister of the Letter_, has spoken too
     favourably of the allegorical Scheme; he has treated it with too
     much Respect, both as to the Origin and Use of it, and done enough
     to sap the Foundation of his Church; for which, I am afraid, he'll
     meet with a Reprimand from his Episcopal Brethren. The _Bishop_ of
     _Lichfield_ is the Man for my Money, to write against the
     allegorical Scheme; he tells us, that[352] _St._ Paul _suffer'd in
     the Esteem of the Jewish Christians for his Neglect of Allegories;
     and seems to be brought into the Use of them against his own good
     liking_. And again,[353] _It seems to have been in compliance with
     Jewish Christians, who were affected with allegorick
     Interpretations, that St._ Paul _used that way_. Which is as much
     as to say, St. _Paul_ was more a _Minister of the Spirit_, than of
     Inclination he was disposed to be, or, in truth, ought to have
     been; and that, if he took upon him the Ministry of the Spirit for
     the present, it was only craftily and politically done of him, to
     catch the _Jews_ in their own Snare of Allegories. He was
     consenting that the Preachers of the Gospel, in future Times,
     should desert the _Ministry of the Spirit_, and betake themselves
     to the _Letter_ of the Scriptures, as what is more agreeable to
     Truth, and conducive to the Defence and Propagation of
     Christianity. Such a _Craftsman_ was the inspir'd St. _Paul_, in
     the Opinion of the _Bishop_ of _Lichfield_! However, the _Bishop_
     of St. _David's_ ought to be of the same Mind; he should assert,
     that the _Ministry_ of the _Spirit_ was all apostolical Craft and
     antient Error; and that the present Generation of Priests, being
     wiser, more learned, and more sincere than the Primitive and
     Apostolical ones, do adhere to the _Ministry of the Letter_.
     Because the _Bishop_ has not gone thus far by much, he leaves more
     room, than he should, for the Revival of the _Ministry of the
     Spirit_; that is, of the spiritual and allegorical Interpretation
     of the Scriptures.

     "The _Bishop_ often reproves me for my primitive Interpretation of
     _this_ and _that_ Text of Scripture, and then palms his own forc'd
     Sense on us, for natural and genuine, contrary to the Judgment of
     all Antiquity.

     "He is so _grave_, serious, and sedate at some simple Doctrines and
     Arguments, that his _Readers_ must of necessity laugh, if not scoff
     at him. Was I _ludicrously_ to handle the said Doctrines, my
     _Readers_ would hardly smile. Such a wide Difference is there
     between the _Levity_ of a Buffoon (as he is pleased to call me) and
     the _Gravity_ of an Ass, to the exposing of Religion to the
     Ridicule and Contempt of Mankind.

     "Lastly, He entirely mistakes the Design of my _Discourses_; he
     knows not what I aim and drive at. There's one Paradox runs through
     his whole Book, _viz._ That the litteral Story of our Saviour's
     Miracles must of necessity be true, or I should have no Foundation
     to build Allegories upon; which is a gross Mistake of other Writers
     against me, as well as of himself. Who knows not that the profest
     Parables of _Jesus_ have nothing of _Letter_ in them, yet are a
     good Foundation for Allegory? And let me tell him here again, that
     whatever was true, more or less, in the litteral Story of _Jesus_'s
     Miracles, there is absolute Necessity, for the Honour and Credit of
     them, to have Recourse to the Mystery; or litterally they are, and
     shall be farther proved such----Stories, as I dare not at present
     call them."

Thus have I given a brief Account of the _Bishop_'s mighty and pompous
Performance; like to which he has promis'd us another Volume, that I
shall long for the publication of, next _Winter_. This my brief
Account is but introductory to future and larger Defences of my
_Discourses_ on Miracles; which, by the Help of God, and Permission
of the Civil Authority, shall be likewise publish'd.

I have not, I say, room here so much as to defend my self on any one
Miracle; and if I had, I would not do it. For as I can't do it without
writing in the same Stile and Strain for which I am prosecuted, so I
will do nothing that may be interpreted as an Act in Defiance and
Contempt of the Power of the Civil Magistrate. I did indeed publish
two _Discourses_ after the Commencement of the Prosecution, because I
imagined that our _Bishops_ were more in Jest than in Earnest; or if
their Passions were raised for the present, I thought, that after a
little Consideration of the unreasonableness of Persecution in
general, they would cool upon it, and drop the Prosecution. But since
they are in Earnest, and I must answer to the Civil Powers for some
supposed Crimes in my _Discourses_, I'll not repeat here the like
Acts, but be quiescent in respect to the said Powers, to whom
Reverence and Obedience is justly due. For, tho' I look upon the
Ecclesiastical Power as an Usurpation on the Consciences of Mankind,
yet the _Civil_ is Sacred, is God's Ordinance, and ought to be
regarded as such. But if I survive the Prosecution, and escape with my
Life and Liberty, which I don't despair of, under so wise, just, and
good a Magistracy as this Nation is bless'd with, the _Bishop_ may
expect a strenuous Defence of my self against his weak Assaults on me.

If our _Bishops_ were any thing _Heroical_, they would stop the
Prosecution, and let the Controversy take its free Course. If they had
any Sense of Honour and Reputation, any Regard for their Learning,
they would set any Adversary of their Church at Defiance, and disdain
the Assistance of the Civil Magistrate to punish him, whom they could
not confute. It is the Office of the _Bishops_ and _Priests_ of the
Church, or I know not what is, to convert _Infidels_, to refute
_Hereticks_, and by Reason and Argument to put to Silence all
_Gain-sayers_. Wherefore have they a liberal and academical Education,
but to qualify them for this Work? Wherefore do they receive large
Revenues of the Church, but to oblige and encourage them to it?
Nothing more unreasonable, than that Men should receive Wages, when
they don't their Work. What will the People say hereupon less, than
that an Army of at least Twenty thousand Blackguards of the Church are
hired to little or no Purpose? The meanest of the People may as well
be taken to Church Preferments, as our reputed learned Divines. They
can discharge other Ecclesiastical Offices; and when they are
distress'd with an Objection to their Religion, can do no worse than
call upon the Civil Magistrate for his Aid and Assistance. But after
all, I am inclin'd to think our _Bishops_, in Honour, would forbear
Persecution, but for their Interests, call'd their _All_, which depend
on the Issue of this Controversy.

However, not to urge the Argument for Liberty of Debate any farther,
which has been already by others treated on to Perfection, and will be
again returned, I doubt not, by some body else, on occasion of this
_Bishop_'s _Dedication_, I can't but take Notice here how unpolitick,
as well as unchristian, some Dissenters are in this Controversy,
being, such as Dr. _Harris_, and Mr. _Atkinson_, no less for
Persecution than the _Clergy_. If they had a Regard to their own
Interests and Liberties, they would be silent. Infidels (of whom I am
none) should be consider'd as Dissenting Brethren, whom they should
not be forward to oppress, for fear in time, and by degrees, it should
come to their own Turn. Our _Dissenters_ indeed, collectively, are
vastly numerous, and a potent Party, but may trust too much to their
own Strength and Numbers. Taking them separately, they may possibly
be Extinguish'd by Ecclesiastical Art and Craft. If Blasphemy is a
just Pretence for the Prosecution of me, the _Clergy_, upon Occasion,
can urge the same Crime against them. I'll tell them a Story. The
_Calvinists_ and _Socinians_ were once equally tolerated in _Poland_,
and if they had been fast Friends to each other, the _Papists_ could
never have suppress'd them: But the _Calvinists_ joining with the
_Papists_, and urging them to complain against the _Socinians_ for
Blasphemy, in denying the Divinity of the Son of God, moved the Civil
Authority to a Banishment of them; and the _Socinians_ had not been
long suppress'd, before the _Papists_ accus'd the _Calvinists_ of no
less Blasphemy, in denying Adoration to the Virgin _Mary_; and so they
were sent packing too; otherwise they might both have enjoy'd their
Liberty to this Day. The Application of the Story is easy. So if all
we _Dissenters_ from the Church, whether we like one another's
Principles or not, don't hold together for the Preservation of our
Liberties, it's easy for Ecclesiasticks to feign an Accusation of
_Blasphemy_ against any of us. We have no Security, but in the Wisdom
and Goodness of an excellent Government, which, if the _Clergy_
should ever get on the Back of, its hardly a Question, whether they
would not drive, _Jehu_ like, most furiously.

But to return to my _Bishop_. I once thought he would never have been
drawn into this Controversy. Sometime after the Publication of my
Third _Discourse_, which, for a visible Reason, I dedicated to him,
and invited him to Battle, I ask'd a dignify'd _Clergy-man_, Whether
the _Bishop_ would write against me? He answer'd, No: Whereupon I
concluded, that he had a Scent of somewhat, not here to be mention'd.
But my repeated Provocations of him afterwards, have forc'd him,
against Inclination, to engage me. His Passion got the better of his
Reason, or he had been certainly quiescent: And the Violence of his
Passion is so visible thro' his whole Book, that it's God's great
Mercy it did not throw him into a Fever and Convulsions, to the Danger
of his Life and Health.

I own here again, what I have done before, that I did lay a Trap for
our _Clergy_; but little imagined that two such great _Bishops_, as of
_London_ and St. _David's_, would, to my Pleasure and Satisfaction,
have been caught in it. If I had not baited my Trap well with
_Ridicule_, I dare say, they would have kept themselves clear of it.

But when I experienc'd the hard Usage the Bishops had given me upon my
_Discourses_, and the Fury with which they attack'd me, it surprised me,
and brought to my Mind _Origen_'s Prediction[354] of this _very_ War and
Controversy of the _Spirit_ against the _Letter_ of the _Scriptures_,
and of the Violence it would be carried on with. For all my Veneration
for the Authority of the Fathers, I did here suspect the Truth of
_Origen_'s Prediction, believing him to be mistaken, and that the
Controversy would be manag'd in a _calm_, _decent_, and _sedate_ Manner;
and so it had been, but for the Interests of the _Clergy_ that are at
Stake in it, which I was not aware of. Finding then the Truth of
_Origen_'s Prediction contrary to my Expectations, I had the Curiosity
further to consult the Fathers about the Issue of this Controversy; and
they presently, with their mystical Fingers, pointed to a Prophecy of it
in the _Revelations_ of St. _John_; but, to say no more at present,
assur'd me, that the _Spirit_ would get the Better of the _Letter_ in
the Conclusion of it. Tho' I am accounted an Infidel, I am so easy and
credulous a Christian as to believe all this; and I thank God have so
much Courage in me, as to try the Truth of it.

But I must observe here, that besides my two _Bishops_, of _London_ and
St. _David's_, (and some other inconsiderable _Triflers_) there are two
_anonymous_ Authors against me, whose Works have acquir'd some Fame. The
One is intitled, _The Miracles of Jesus vindicated_, in _Three Parts_.
If I could have gotten to the certain Knowledge of the Author, I should
have been tempted to have had a Bout with him; and to have expostulated
with him, both with Regard to his Arguments and good Manners. I would
have taught him a better Use, and a more proper Application of the Words
_Dishonesty, and want of Honesty_, than to reproach me with them. Common
Fame says, Dr. _Pearse_, of St. _Martin's_, is the Author; but I am apt
to think, the _King_'s Parish Priest, and other City _Divines_, have
more Wit and Craft than to upbraid me as above, for fear a just Charge
of _Dishonesty_, for their Extortions and Exactions on the People,
should be retorted on them. Upon the Publication of the _First Part_ of
the foresaid Treatise, my _Jewish Rabbi_ comes to me in all haste,
saying to me, "Look you here, do you see how this Author has new vampt
the old _mumpsimus_ Argument of _Jesus_'s Resurrection? Do you observe
how imperfectly, here and there, he answers my Objections to it; and
silently slips by some knotty Pieces of them, that were too hard for him
to untie?" Yes, _Rabbi_, said I, I do observe all this; (and what I have
observ'd since, he argues, awkwardly and backwardly, for the Certainty
of _Jesus_'s other Miracles, from his Resurrection.) My _Rabbi_
presently re-inforc'd his Resurrection-Objection against this Author,
and would have had me to print it. No, no, _Rabbi_, said I; you may
print it your self, if you dare. I must wait to hear how Causes will go
in _Westminster-Hall_, next Term, before I involve my self in another
Law-Suit. Besides, _Rabbi_, they say, I don't really thus correspond
with a _Jew_, but do only personate one; and the _Bishop_ of St.
_David's_ hints, that I am answerable to publick Justice for so doing.
Here my Rabbi stampt with Indignation; saying, What if you did personate
a _Jew_? Is it not lawful, and in Use with your _Divines_, to write
Conferences between a Christian and a _Jew_? And do you any more in this
Case? Yes, _Rabbi_, said I, it is lawful to write such like Conferences,
and to make _Jewish_ Objections to Christianity, when they are no
stronger than may be easily dissipated: But when Men write from the
Heart, as you do, and raise a D----l that our _Clergy_ can't easily lay,
it is, they say, intolerable, and punishable; and either you or I, in
the Opinion of the _Bishop_, ought to suffer for it.

The other considerable _Treatise_ against me, is that of _The Trial of
the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus_; which is an ingenious
Piece, and I was well pleased with it. Some time after the Publication
of this _Treatise_, I made my Jewish _Rabbi_ a Visit, when, drinking a
_Dish_ of _Tea_ together, we talk'd it over; and my _Rabbi_ was
pleas'd to deliver his Sentiments of it in this fashion: "Whoever was
the Author of this Treatise, God knows, but he's certainly a Friend to
my Objections against _Jesus_'s Resurrection, which he has fairly
stated; but is so far from fully confuting all of them, that he
discovers a Consciousness, here and there, that they are unanswerable.
It is commonly reported that Bishop _Sherlock_ is the Author of this
_Treatise_, but this Report I look upon as an Artifice of the
Booksellers, to make it sell well; or rather the Author's contrived
_Banter_ upon the _Clergy_, and their weak Christian Brethren, to try
how far they may be imposed on, and drawn into the Approbation and
Admiration of a Treatise, that really makes against them. There is but
very little in this Treatise, to make it reputed a sufficient Answer
to my Objections, excepting the Verdict of the _Jury_, who brought in
the Witnesses of the Resurrection, _Not Guilty_, of either Fraud or
Mistake in it. _Bishop Sherlock_ can't be the Author of this Treatise,
if for no other Reason than this, that _that_ Author is visibly
against that Ecclesiastical Wealth and Power, which the _Bishop_ is
possess'd of, and does think not disagreeable to the Mind of Christ
and his poor Apostles. If any _Bishop_ is the concealed Author of this
Treatise, he must secretly be of the Opinion of the atheistical Pope,
who said, _quantum nobis profuit hæc de Christo Fabula_, what vast
Advantage has the Story of Christ been to us Popes and Bishops." I
readily gave into the Opinion of my _Rabbi_, and wonder'd, _Bishop
Sherlock_ did not so much as by a publick Advertisement clear himself
of being the Author of this Treatise, and so put a Stop to the
Report. It may be the _Bishop_ is above the Scandal of it; but I was
so concern'd for his Reputation, that I drew up a _Vindication_ of him
from the Slander of it; which I had publish'd, but for my _Rabbi_'s
farther Thoughts about the Resurrection of Jesus inserted in it, that
our _Bishops_ might have possibly taken Offence at. So I dropp'd that
Design at present, but hope still for an Opportunity to publish the
said Vindication of the _Bishop_, by which, I don't doubt, but to
merit his Friendship and Favour.

But whoever was the real Author of the foresaid Treatise, I humbly and
heartily beg of him to publish, what in the Conclusion of it, he has
given us some Hopes of, _The Trial of the Witnesses of the
Resurrection of_ LAZARUS, because my _Rabbi_'s Objections to it are a
Novelty and Curiosity, which, by way of such a Reply to them, I should
be glad to see handled.

But having here by Chance mention'd my _Rabbi_'s Letter concerning
_Lazarus_'s Resurrection, it brings to my Mind a Challenge I made to
the _Bishop_ of _London_ upon it, _viz._[355] "If he would publish an
Answer to that Letter, and vouchsafe me the Pleasure of a Reply to it;
then (to save the _Civil Magistrates_ Trouble) I would suffer such
Punishment that he in his Clemency should think fit to inflict on me,
for what's past." An ingenuous _Clergy-man_, upon reading this, said,
that the _Bishop_ was bound, in Honour, to accept of my Challenge, or,
what was in his Power, in Generosity, to put a Stop to the
Prosecution. But the _Bishop_ is not of his Mind. And for what Reason
he does not accept of my Challenge, is best known to himself, and
others will conjecture. If he had not condescended to write against me
in his _Pastoral Letter_, I should have imagined, that he thought it
beneath the Dignity of One of his exalted Station in the Church, to
set his Wit (for dignified Priests, for the most part, think their Wit
and Learning proportion'd to their Wealth and Power) against such a
poor Author as I am. But this is not the Reason. It may be, he thinks
his Reputation and Honour secure in the Height of his Grandeur, and
that his Dependents will admire his Learning nothing the less for his
Neglect of my Challenge. However it be, this I will say, that were we
upon the Level in the World as to Fortune, as well as we are to Age
and Education, the Learned would despise him for declining the
reasonable Challenge of one, whom he has injuriously treated and
persecuted. It's to no Purpose to challenge him here afresh; he, being
purpos'd to carry the Matter with an high Hand, has taken other
Measures, and is resolv'd to make use of his Power and Interest to
suppress him, whom with Reason and Argument he can't convince.

However, I will here make another Proposal to the _Bishop_ of St.
_David's_. Because he thirsts after a very severe Punishment of me, or
he would not be so warm in his Exhortations of the Government to that
Purpose, I'll tell him how he may glut his Revenge, and inflict a
greater Punishment on me, than, in all probability, the Civil Magistrate
will humour him in. If he'll but put a Stop to the Prosecution at
present (which is not out of the Power of our _Bishops_, whatever they
may pretend) and let the Controversy go on, till I have finish'd my
Reply to his _two Volumes_, which shall be done with all Expedition;
then, if his Passion is not allay'd, I will submit to any Punishment, he
in his Wisdom and Justice, without Mercy, shall think fit to have laid
on me, whether it be to Death or Imprisonment. And what would he, or any
implacable Priest, desire more? This Proposal makes him my Judge as
well as my Accuser, and if he be not the most unreasonable Man alive, he
must accept of it. All my Hopes here are, that his Reason may recover
its Dominion over his Passion, against the Conclusion of my _Defence_,
or it will go hard with me. If the _Bishop_ will not comply with this
Proposal, I shall conclude, he's possess'd with the only certain and
allegorical _Satan_, mention'd in my _Discourses_; and I shall be
confirm'd in the Opinion of St. _Hilary_ (whose Testimonies about
Devils, the _Bishop_ has silently pass'd by, without any Charge upon me
for Misrepresentation) that there are no worse _Devils_ in the World,
than the calumniating, furious, and persecuting Tempers of Mankind. The
_Bishop_, by the by, has taken Pains to prove there are other _Devils_,
of an infernal, frightful, and independent Nature, and of a more certain
Existence than _Hobgoblins_; and he gravely asserts, that three of those
_Devils_ enter'd into each _Hog_, that ran violently down-hill; thereby
making the little _Pigs_ to carry as great a Burden as the old _Boars_
and _Sows_, which should have been better thought of by him. The
_Bishop_, perhaps, for these my Descants, will say I am an Infidel; but
I assure him, it is one of the Articles of my Primitive and Christian
Faith, that the old _Dragon_, _Satan_, the _Serpent_, or the _Devil_,
mention'd in the _Revelations_, is no other than the furious, violent,
and persecuting Spirit in Man; which, upon the World's getting Liberty
of Religion, will be bound and chain'd. And it is the Opinion of
Thousands, as well as of my self, that Mankind will never be Happy, nor
at Rest, till this _Devil_ is exorcised out of the Priesthood, and so of
consequence chain'd up. According to the primitive Way of interpreting
the _Revelations_ of St. _John_, the Time is near at Hand for the
_binding_ this Apocalyptical old _Dragon_ or _Satan_, that has pester'd
the World through all Ages past. All the Honour that I desire, is, by my
Studies and Endeavours to be contributing to so great a Work, for the
Good and Happiness of Mankind.

To conclude. I have been the more expeditious in printing of this
Discourse, not only for fear the _Bishop_'s _Vindication_ (as it is
call'd) should have a _malign Influence_ upon some People, I don't
mean our _Civil Magistrates_, who are wiser and more learned than to
be guided by such outragious Stuff; but because he should not long
triumph in a Conceit of the Potency and Excellency of his
Performance, as if no Reply could or would be made to it. If I had at
this Time enjoy'd free Liberty of Debate, I should not have thought it
worth my while to meddle with his _Dedication_, which with a Scorn I
should have pass'd by, and left to the Animadversions and Chastisement
of other Enemies to Persecution; but would immediately have enter'd
upon a Defence of my _Discourses_ against him. If I do retrieve my
Liberty, and the free Use of my Pen, and should not publish Defences
of my self, I should deserve (what _one_ said the _Bishop_ of
_London_, for his declining my Challenge, deserv'd) to be piss'd upon
for a vain Pretender to Argument and Authority.

In the mean time, I have nothing to request of our _Clergy_, but that
Liberty of Debate may be indulg'd us; _that_ Liberty of theological
Disputation, which would be granted, if they did not industriously
labour to obstruct it. When will they cease to disgrace Truth, to
dishonour their Religion, and to disparage their own Education and
Learning; and no longer envy Mankind the blessed Enjoyment of such a

But their Religion, they say, would be in Danger upon such a Liberty.
How can that be? How can Christianity be in Danger, that has not only
the Omnipotence of God on his Side, but a numerous standing Army of
Priests, hired for the Defence of it? It is not then their Concern for
Religion, that prompts them to so much Zeal here; but their Fears for
their Interests, that depend on the Issue of this Controversy.

Was I to write against any other honest _Trade_, that is practised in
this City, the Artificers of it, being sensible of the Usefulness of
their Craft, would let me go on unmolested; and only pity and despise me
for the Vanity of my Attempt to subvert them: But the _Clergy_, being
prick'd with a Consciousness of the Mischiefs and Inconveniencies of
their Establishment, do therefore thus winch and kick.

And who, besides the _Clergy_, are at this time Enemies to Liberty? None
hardly, but their immediate Dependents, whom they can easily infuse
their fiery and furious Notions into. Was it to be voted this Day among
the learned _Laity_, I dare say, the Friends of Persecution would be
found vastly short of the Numbers of their Adversaries. And I hope to
God, the Legislative Authority of these Nations will soon take the
Matter into their Consideration; and either limit or enlarge the Bounds
of Liberty, that honest and well-meaning Men may be no longer harrass'd
and molested, for their sincere Endeavours to serve the Publick.

No Body, I trust, can complain of any disrespectful Usage, I have here
given the _Bishop_ of St. _David's_, that considers, how he has treated
me in _his Sermon before the Societies for Reformation_; and _in his
Charge to the Clergy of his Diocese_; as well as _in his Vindication_.
It would be sufficient, if I had no other Excuse for my self than
_this_, That Controversy is like a _Game_ at _Foot ball_, in which, if a
_Lord_ will engage with a _Plowman_, and should meet with a Kick on the
Shins, he ought not to complain of the ill Manners of it: So if a
_Bishop_ will dispute with one of lower Degree, he must look for a Rub
on his Intellects, a Rap on his Pate, and if his Adversary cuts him on a
soft Place, he should know how to bear it with Patience. But the
_Bishop_, contrary to this _Game-Rule_ in Controversy, complains[356] of
my _unmannerly_ Treatment of him, and cries out of the Sufferings and
Reproaches he undergoes, as if he was already more than half a Martyr
for Religion. I can't pretend to equal him in Reproaches and Sufferings,
having not so quick a Sense of them; and therefore I am willing, that
good Christian People should pity my poor _Bishop_, rather than me, in a
persecuted and sorrowful Condition.

How long it will be, before I publish another, and _second_ Part of my
_Defence_, is uncertain, for a Reason, that I need not again mention.
But if it please God, that I enjoy Life, Health, and Liberty, I'll go
on with my Designs. I am resolv'd to give the _Letter_ of the
Scriptures no Rest, so long as I am able by Reason and Authority to
disturb it. If our Ministers of the _Letter_ will not ascend with me,
the sublime and allegorical _Mountain_ of divine Contemplation, they
than have no Comfort nor Enjoyment of themselves in the low _Valley_
of the _Letter_, if I can disquiet them. Notwithstanding what the
_Bishop_ has written in _Vindication_ of _Jesus_'s Miracles, the
litteral Story of them, by the Leave of God, and of the Civil
Magistrate, shall be afresh attack'd, and perhaps with more
_Ridicule_, than I used before. What should I flinch for? The
litteral Story of _Jesus_'s Miracles is not, in the Opinion of the
Fathers, as well as of my self, agreeable to Sense and Reason; neither
can _Jesus_'s Authority and Messiahship be founded on the _Letter_ of
them. I am not for the _Messiahship_ of a carnal _Jesus_, who cured
the bodily Diseases of Blindness and Lameness; but for Messiahship of
the spiritual _Jesus_, who will cure the Blindness and Lameness of our
Understandings. I am for the Messiahship of the spiritual _Jesus_, who
will expel the mercenary Preachers out of his Church, after the manner
that _Jesus_ in the Flesh is supposed to have driven the Sellers out
of the Temple, which litterally is but a sorry Story. I am for the
Messiahship of the spiritual _Jesus_, who exorcised the furious and
persecuting Devils out of the Mad-men of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_; and
tho' he permitted them to enter into a Herd of Ecclesiastical Swine,
yet will precipitate them into the Sea of Divine Knowledge. I am for
the spiritual _Jesus_, who will cure the _Woman_ of the Church, of her
_Issue of Blood_, that is shed in Persecution and War; which her
Ecclesiastical Physicians, and Quack-Doctors of the _Clergy_, have not
been able to do, tho' they have received large Fees and Revenues to
that End. I am for a spiritual _Messiah_, who will cure the Woman of
the Church of her _Infirmity_, at the Spirit of Prophecy, of whose
Infirmity this Age is her _eighteenth_ Year. So could I write of all
_Jesus_'s Miracles; for the whole Evangelical History is Figure and
Shadow of the spiritual _Jesus_, whom we should _know to be in us of a
Truth, unless we be Reprobates_. The _Clergy_, if they are not
wilfully blind, may hence see my Christian Faith and Principles; and
be assured, that what I do in this Controversy, is with a View to the
Honour of God, the Advancement of Truth, the Edification of the
Church, and Demonstration of the Messiahship of the Holy _Jesus_, to
whom be Glory for ever. _Amen._



[338] His Sermon before the Societies for Reformation; and his Charge
to the Clergy.

[339] In his Dedication.

[340] Page 35.

[341] _Vindication of three Miracles_, p. 76, 77.

[342] Cum venerit ergo Elias exponendo Legem _Spiritaliter_, convertit
Corda Patrum ad filios. _De Civit. Dei._ Lib. XX. c. 29.

[343] Litteram Legis sequentes in Infidelitatem & vanas Superstitiones
incurrunt. _In Matt. Tract._ 26.

[344] In Dedication of Third _Discourse_.

[345] Page 177.

[346] _Discourse_ the Fifth, _p._ 69.

[347] Inveniatur enim in Christianismo non minor (nequid dicam
arrogantius) fide Ratio & Enarratio Propheticorum ænigmatum,
parabolarumque evangelicarum, aliarumque innumerarum figurarum, quæ
vel in _Gestis_ continentur vel Legibus. _Cont. Celsum. Lib._ I.

[348] Quidam corporalia ejus Miracula stupentes, majora intueri non
norunt. Quidam vero ea, quæ gesta audiunt in Corporibus, nunc amplius
in animis admirantur,----Tales nos esse debemus in Schola Christi. _In
Serm._ xcviii.

[349] In _Discourse_ the Sixth.

[350] _Mystery of Godliness_, B. x. c. 2.

[351] 1 Tim. v. 8.

[352] _Defence of Christianity_, p. 347.

[353] Ibid. p. 353.

[354] Est adhuc alia Pugna his omnibus violentior; quod ii, quod Legem
secundum Carnem intelligunt, adversantur his, qui secundum spiritum
sentiunt, & persequuntur eos. _In Genesiæ Hom._ vii.

[355] In Fifth _Discourse_, p. 67.

[356] In his Preface, _p._ 17, 18.

                            Mr. _WOOLSTON_'s


                                 OF HIS


                                 ON THE

                       MIRACLES of our _Saviour_.

                  Against the BISHOPS of St. _David_'s
                    and _London_, and his other Adversaries.

                                PART II.

           _Nec Religionis est cogere Religionem, quæ sponte
                   suscipi debeat, non Vi._ Tertull.


                Printed for the AUTHOR, and Sold by him
                  next Door to the _Star_, in _Aldermanbury_, and
                  by the Booksellers of _London_ and _Westminster_.


                        [_Price One Shilling._]


                                 TO THE

                            RIGHT HONOURABLE

                       Sir _Robert Raymond_, Kt.

                   Lord Chief Justice of the Court of
                            _King's Bench_.


That I am no Flatterer of _Patrons_, appears by my other
_Dedications_: If therefore I should tell your _Lordship_, what I can
in Sincerity, that I think you as wise and good a Magistrate, as any
of your _Predecessors_ in that _High Court_ of _Justice_, you may be
assured, I don't dissemble.

Tho' I was so unfortunate, _My Lord_, as to receive a Sentence in your
Court, which I wish'd to avoid; yet I have no worse Opinion of your
Wisdom and Justice. Your Conduct towards me, from first to last, has
rather heighten'd than lessen'd my Esteem and Veneration for you. I
observ'd in you such a Tenderness for our religious Liberties; such an
Aversion to Persecution; and such Moderation towards my self, that if
I had been absolutely acquitted, it would have been but with somewhat
more Satisfaction.

And if I now write to clear my self of all Suspicions of Infidelity,
for which I was sentenced; your _Lordship_, I humbly presume, will not
think the worse of me. It is not expected that the Innocent should
confess Guilt, in a Compliment to any Court of Justice: Nor does the
Condemnation of the Guiltless, at any time almost, so much affect the
Justice of the Magistrate, as the Honesty of the Evidence: So I, _My
Lord_, know how to lay the Blame entirely on my Ecclesiastical
Accusers, and believe your _Lordship_ will be rather pleas'd than
offended at any good Defence I can make for my self.

From the Beginning of the Prosecution against me, _my Lord_, I hardly
believed, that any Sentence would be pass'd on me, till the Day I
received it: And the Reason was, not only because the good Tendency of
my _Discourses_ was so visible, that I thought it could not be
overlook'd by the Wise and Learned; but because I imagin'd our
_Bishops_ would have better consulted their Reputation, than to let
Matters come to this Issue.

That it is a Transgression of the Law of the Land to write against
Christianity, establish'd in it, I'll not question, since I have your
_Lordship_'s Word for it: But for all that, I could wish, for the Sake
of Christianity, that such a Liberty was indulg'd to _Infidels_.
Whatever our zealous _Clergy_ may think, one Persecution of an
_Infidel_ does more Harm to Religion, than the Publication of the
worst _Book_ against it.

Liberty is so essential, _My Lord_, to the Enquiry after Truth, that
where It is wanted, Truth will want that Splendor, which it receives
from Disputation: And Christianity would be the more tryumphant over
its Enemies, for that unbounded Liberty, they may enjoy to contest it
from the _Press_. I say this, not for the Security of my self; against
future Prosecutions but, from a Heart, full of Zeal for the Religion
of the Holy _Jesus_.

Ever since the _Reformation_, which was founded on our Natural and
Christian Rights to Liberty of Conscience, has this great Blessing of
Liberty, at Times, been interrupted by Persecutions: But whether any
of them hitherto have done any Service to _Church_ or _State_, your
_Lordship_ is a good Judge.

However, tho' the Prosecution of my self, which was founded on a grand
Mistake, is attended with no ill Consequence; yet I hope our
_Ecclesiasticks_ will grow cautious by it, and no more sollicit the
most indulgent Civil Magistracy of this Kingdom to the Persecution of
any other, much less of,

[Sidenote: London May 25. 1730.]

  _My Lord_,
    _Your Lordship's_
       _Most Obedient and_
          _Humble Servant_,
     Tho. Woolston.



                              SECOND PART

                                 OF THE

                             DEFENCE, _&c._

It's Time now to publish another _Part_ of my _Defence_, which, in my
former, I gave my _Readers_ some Reason to expect from me. If I should
keep Silence much longer, my _Adversaries_ will be ready to charge me
with Cowardice, or Insufficiency; and say, that I'm either absolutely
confuted by the _Writers_ against me, or so terrified by the Civil
Magistrate's Authority, that I either can't, or dare not, engage
afresh in the same Cause. And I must confess, that if I was not
convinced of the Goodness of my Cause, which is no other than God's,
and of my Ability to defend it, I should chuse to hold my Peace, and
be glad that it has fared no worse with me.

One Reason indeed why I have been so long ere I publish'd _this_, is
pure Respect to the Civil Powers, whom I am oblig'd, as a Christian,
to honour and reverence, so far as may be, without Disobedience to
God. Had I hastily, and as soon almost as _Sentence_ was pass'd on me,
publish'd _this_, some might have interpreted it, as an Act of
Defiance and Contempt of the Civil Authority, (for there are not
wanting those who will put the worst Construction they can on my
Conduct;) therefore I forbore for a while: And now that I appear again
from the _Press_, it is not without professing a profound Veneration
for our Civil Magistracy, who, I am sure, will never think the worse
of a Man for vindicating his own Innocency, or for writing in a Cause
that, in his Conscience, he is persuaded is most just and good.

Another Reason why I committed this no sooner to the Press, was to wait
the Publication of the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s his _Second Volume_,
which he promised us last Winter. I was almost of Opinion, that, in my
former _Defence_, I gave the _Bishop_ such Intimations of my sincere
Belief of Christianity, notwithstanding my _Discourses_ on _Miracles_,
and of the Falseness of his repeated Charge against me for Infidelity,
that I question'd whether he would write again in the same Strain. If
the _Bishop_ is convinced of this his grand Mistake about me, then the
very Foundation of his past and future Work is shaken, and I shall hear
no more of him. But whether he is certainly convinc'd of his Mistake or
not, I am concern'd to go on with these _Defences_ of my self, and to
vindicate the Goodness and Usefulness of the Design of my _Discourses_
on _Miracles_, against what the _Bishops_ of _London_ and _St. David_'s,
and other _Adversaries_ have written to the contrary.

But, before I enter upon such a _Defence_ of my self and my
_Discourses_, I must make, what is proper here, a short Preface. It is
well known, that I am for Liberty of Debate, and against all
Persecution or Force, or Impositions on the Consciences of Mankind.
But for all that, there are some _Rules_ in Controversy that we
polemical _Writers_ should observe, and be oblig'd to; or, instead of
discovering and illustrating the Truth we pretend to search for, we
shall but the more darken, obstruct and perplex it. As,

_First_, We should endeavour to write as plainly and intelligibly as
we can, and never amuse our _Readers_ with Expressions void of Sense,
or with false Reasoning against our _Adversaries_, where we want
what's good and solid. This _Rule_ none can except against: Whether I
am an Observer of this _Rule_, my Readers are to be Judges. As I am to
answer it to God and a good Conscience, I endeavour to observe it; but
much question, whether some of my _Adversaries_ can say so too, or
they would never vent such dark, impertinent and unintelligible Stuff,
if it was not, because they are at a Loss for what's clear and
shining. There's no End of giving Instances out of their Writings to
this Purpose. I shall only mention one, that's repeated amongst them,
and that is, of their pretended Distinction between Popish
_Persecution_ and Protestant _Prosecution_ for Opinions, wherewith
they have amused weak and injudicious Heads. The Wife, I am sure, can
discern no more Difference here, than between a _Rope_ and a _Halter_
to hang an innocent Man, in which Case too there is a _nominal_
Distinction without a _real_ Difference.

_Secondly_, We should be open and sincere in our Opinions, and not
profess with our Mouths to believe, what we disown in our Hearts; nor,
like _Watermen_, that look one way and row another, should we pretend
to have one Design in View, when we are pursuing the quite contrary.
This is a reasonable _Rule_, and ought to be observ'd, or we shall
confound the Understandings of our _Readers_, who will soon lose Sight
of our Arguments, if they apprehend not their Aim and Drift. This
_Rule_, my Adversaries will say, is levell'd at my self, than whom no
body has more dissembled and prevaricated in his Opinions. Have not
you, will they say to me, frequently declared, that your Design in
your _Discourses_ is to make way for the Proof of the Truth of
Christianity, and of the Messiahship of the Holy _Jesus_, when you
mean and intend the Subversion of both? And is not here grand
Hypocrisy, and a Transgression of this Rule? Yes, if I intend the
Subversion of Christ's Religion and Messiahship, here is grand
Hypocrisy, and a Transgression of this _Rule_; and I can't think of
such a Piece of Prevarication without Horror. The Bishop of _St.
David_'s[357] and Mr. _Stackhouse_,[358] in particular, have
animadverted upon me for such Hypocrisy; and if I was guilty of it, in
much gentler Terms than I deserv'd. This Hypocrisy, which they falsely
charge me with, is as heinous a Sin as I can think of; it is as bad as
wilful _Perjury_, as bad as a _Clergyman_'s taking the Abjuration
Oath, with his Heart full of Zeal and Affection for the Pretender, and
worse than his giving his solemn Assent and Consent to Articles of
Religion he believes little or nothing of. I should hardly have
mention'd this _Rule_ to be observ'd in Controversy, if I had been
guilty of the Breach of it. It is somewhat excusable in _Infidels_ a
little to disguise their real Sentiments, for fear of the Danger they
may incur by an open Profession of them: But such a gross and foul
Mask of Hypocrisy, as some think I have here put on, is intolerable,
and must be hateful to _Infidels_ as well as _Christians_, being
obstructive to Truth, which, in all Inquirers after her, loves
Sincerity and Simplicity. No doubt, but my _Adversaries_, some of
them, will still think me a Transgressor of this _Rule_; but my
present and following _Defences_ will absolutely clear me. And if none
of my _Adversaries_ are more guilty of the Transgression of it than
my self, we are all entirely innocent.

_Thirdly_, In Controversy we should avoid all wilful Misrepresentation
of the Sense of our _Adversaries_, and of the _Authors_ we pretend to
cite. Mistakes and Misapprehensions of one another will sometimes
unavoidably happen, and are then as innocent things as involuntary
Errors. But wilful Perversion and Falsification of another Author's
Words, to the Service of our selves, or to the Prejudice of our
_Adversaries_, is most blameable, and of that ill Consequence to the
Search after Truth, that it will keep us always at a Distance from her.
This then is another good _Rule_ to be observed in Controversy, which
some may wonder I have mention'd, because of that Misrepresentation and
Falsification of Authorities I am charg'd with. And I must confess, my
_Adversaries_ have here made an hideous Outcry against me; which if I
can't acquit my self of, I am the foulest Controvertist that ever
appear'd in Print. The Bishop of _St. David_'s[359] calls my
_Falsification_ of Authorities, an _Immorality_, and speculative
_Forgery_; but if I was so guilty as he would have me thought, he speaks
too favourably of it. He should have deem'd it as great a Crime as
practical _Forgery_ by the Law; and all Philosophers and Lovers of Truth
should wish it might be likewise punish'd.

But, good Christian Reader, don't too hastily pass thy Judgment on me.
Suspend awhile; it may be, that I may unexpectedly vindicate my self.
The Matter as yet is under Debate, whether my _Adversaries_ or I are
the grand Misrepresenters and Falsifiers of Authorities. One would
think, that my Adversaries, who were bent on the Accusation of me for
the foresaid Crime, should have kept themselves clear of it: But the
_Bishop_ of _St. David_'s[360] is such a resolute _Misrepresenter_,
that he could not find in his Heart faithfully to transcribe the
_Three Heads_ of my _Discourses_; but by a Suppression of some Words,
and the Change of others, has given them an odious and invidious Turn
to my Disadvantage: And he has studied so hard to pervert the Sense of
the Fathers against me, and so tortured his Brain to make me a
Misrepresenter of them, that I should not wonder, if he had labour'd
under a Pain in his Head ever since, and is unable to write more. Tho'
my Word should not be taken for all this at present; yet in the
Sequel of these _Defences_, it will be made manifest.

It is a great Temptation to our _Bishops_ falsely to accuse and
misrepresent their Adversaries; because they know their Writings don't
equally spread and go together among all their Readers. A _Bishop_'s
Writing going more by itself amongst the _Clergy_, and other Friends
to his Side of the Question, he is tempted to misrepresent his
Adversaries, knowing his prejudiced Readers will take his Report of
them, and credit it. For this Reason, and no other, did the _Bishop_
of _Litchfield_[361] falsely charge the _Author_ of the _Grounds_ with
odious Assertions, to which there is nothing akin in the Places
seemingly referr'd to, nor in all that Author's Work.

However, the _Rule_ in Controversy before laid down is a good, useful
and necessary one. I pray God we may all be religious and
conscientious Observers of it, or we shall retard the Discovery of
Truth, and render our Attainment of it difficult, if not impossible.

_Fourthly_, We should think our selves oblig'd to set our Names to our
Writings in Controversy, especially where it is such a _warm_ one as
is ours at present. The Observation of this _Rule_ would not only
prevent much of the Violation of the _two_ former; but would hinder
abundance of the Dirt of Scandal, Lies and Defamations, that we too
often throw at each other. For what Reason some of the _Writers_[362]
against me have industriously conceal'd their Names, I know full well.
They perhaps would have it thought Modesty, and that they are not
ambitious of the publick Praises they may deserve for their learned
and elaborate Performances. And possibly it may be Modesty in some
Theological Authors to conceal themselves: But where Men have the
Impudence to defame, it's in vain to pretend to the Cloak of Modesty
to cover themselves under. Wherefore then do they sometimes who write
on the establish'd Side of the Question, on which Honour and
Preferment goes, thus conceal themselves? Why, that they might belie
and slander their Adversaries the more securely, without being
expostulated with for their Impudence. It's to no Purpose, they know,
to upbraid an anonymous Author with his Scandal, because he can't be
put to the Blush for it. And a wise Man will not lose his Labour to
expose and confute a libellous Writing, unless he knew whom to charge
with the Guilt of it. It is my Resolution to take no Notice of any
nameless Authors against me, because I, being as it were blindfolded,
engage them at a Disadvantage, whilst they have a full View of me. For
this Reason the _Tryal of the Witnesses_ was pass'd by, or I should
have been tempted to have made some Remarks on it. Let such _Authors_
come forth into the Light, and it may be, they'll meet with the same
Favour I have done the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s. In the mean time, I
declare my Abhorrence of Authors their Concealment of their Names, and
I hope all ingenuous _Writers_ in Controversy will do so too; tho' for
no other Reason, than to prevent Misrepresentations, Defamations, and
personal Reflections, which nameless Authors are too often guilty of.

_Fifthly_, and _lastly_, Others make it a common _Rule_ to be observ'd
in Controversy, that the _Disputants_ should consider each other's
Arguments impartially, without the Byass of Prejudice and Interest.
And a very good _Rule_ this is, if Men would but put it into Practice.
But I shall long despair of such Impartiality in Controversy. Such is
the Power of Prejudice and Interest, that they will influence Men to
believe against the most apparent Reason and Truth. Even Prejudice
will much darken the Eyes of Mens Understandings, but Interest will
put them quite out. O what a horrible Obstacle to the free Enquiry
after Truth, is Interest! Against Demonstration itself will Men
contend for Interest. Interest, upon Occasion, will induce them to
desert the best Opinions, and keep them tight to the worst. This
Experience proves true, and the various Faces of the Church, and
Changes of the _Clergy_ (all for Interest) is a Witness of it. God
forbid that I should judge uncharitably of the Corruption of human
Nature under the Power of Interest; but I believe, that was our
_Legislature_ to do, what they never will, that is, set up the Figure
of a _Calf_ in our Churches, there would be no want of Priests to
worship him, if they were well paid for it; nor of Academical
_Students_ to prove his divine Power and Godship, if the Road to
Preferment lay that Way. For this Reason, among many others, I am for
the Abolition of an hired and establish'd Priesthood, that this grand
Bar of Interest may be removed out of our Way to Truth. And the
_Bishop_ of _London_, that excellent Prelate, as _Bishop Smalbroke_
calls him (for so do we, like other Creatures, knab one another where
it itches) should by rights be of my Mind, saying,[363] "Where there
is an Unwillingness to part with worldly Interests, there must of
Course be a _Desire_ that the Christian Religion should not be true;
and a _Willingness_ to favour and embrace any Argument that is brought
against it, and to cherish any Doubts and Scruples that shall be
rais'd concerning it." So feelingly does this _Bishop_ speak of the
Power of Interest, by which, as I would conceive, he honestly hints to
the Inhabitants of _London_ and _Westminster_, that the _Bishop_ of
their Diocese, and the _Parson_ of their Parish, are most unfit Guides
in Religion, because of the worldly Interests they may have to deceive
them, and keep them in Ignorance and Error.

Thus by way of Preface having spoken to the foregoing _Rules_ to be
observed in this Controversy, I come to a close. _Defence_ of myself
against the Charge of Infidelity, and to vindicate the Usefulness of my
_Discourses on Miracles_ for the Proof of the Truth of Christianity, and
of the Messiahship of the Holy _Jesus_, against all my Adversaries. And
the Method I shall take to this Purpose, is this following.

I. To show the Weakness, Childishness, and Insufficiency of the
Arguments of my _Adversaries_, for the _Letter_ of the Stories of
_Jesus_'s Miracles; and further to prove both _ludicrously_ and
_seriously_ the Absurdities, Incredibilities, and Improbabilities,
that their literal Stories labour under.

II. To prove, that whether there be any Sense, Truth and Fact, or not,
in the Letter of _Jesus_'s Miracles; yet they are Typical Things, and
ought to be allegorically interpreted, and will receive a mysterious
and more wonderful Accomplishment, after the manner, and to the same
Purpose, that the Fathers and I do apply them, being no other (whether
actually wrought or not) than Figures, Signs and Emblems of his future
and mysterious Operations.

III. To show that the mysterious and future Accomplishment of these
supposed Works and Miracles of _Jesus_ alone can and will be the Proof
of his Messiahship.

If I perform well upon these Heads, which are deserving of my
_Reader_'s Review, because of their Pertinency to the Cause in Hand, I
shall not only vindicate myself from the Charge of Infidelity, but
justify the Goodness and Usefulness of my _Discourses_, in order to
the Demonstration of _Jesus_'s Messiahship. And in the midst of my
handling of them, without going out of my Way, I shall, as Occasion
offers itself, take Notice of particular Misrepresentations of the
Fathers, and false Citations out of them, that my Adversaries charge
me with: And Bishop _Smalbroke_ and others had best to look to it, or
their Accusations against me will recoil and return home to them. Then

I. I should show the Weakness, Childishness and Insufficiency of the
Arguments of my _Adversaries_ for the _Letter_ of _Jesus_'s Miracles;
and further argue both _ludicrously_ and _seriously_ the Absurdities,
Incredibilities and Improbabilities, that their literal Stories labour

I should, I say, first treat on this Head, which naturally precedes
the two following; but in as much as to handle it to Perfection, I
should write as I did before, and shall run in Danger of Prosecution
for Blasphemy and Infidelity; I must of Necessity wave and postpone
it, unless I could more than dispatch it in the Compass of this _Part_
of my _Defence_.

I have heretofore made solemn Professions of my Belief of
Christianity, and most seriously declared in the plainest Terms, that
my Design was not to do Service to Infidelity, but to make way for the
Proof of Christ's Religion and Messiahship; but my Word was not taken,
being look'd upon as a Dissembler, an Hypocrite, and Prevaricator, for
all that. And should I now ever so gravely repeat the like
Asseverations of the Integrity and Sincerity of my Heart, that my
Objections against the Letter of _Jesus_'s Miracles are none against
his Religion, but only intended to turn Mens Heads to the mystical
Interpretations of them; I question much whether I should be believed,
and whether _Bishop Smalbroke_[364] would not say again, _that this is
too thin a Disguise of what seems to be my great and worse Design_.
What then in Prudence must I do in this Case? Why, I must let _This
Head_, which reasonably should precede, rest for a while; and by
treating on the _Second_, tho' out of Place, I must first effectually
convince my Adversaries, that I am no _Infidel_ of wicked Designs to
subvert Christianity, but only the _Ministry of the Letter_; and then,
I conceive, I may safely resume the Consideration of this _First
Head_, and without the Imputations of Infidelity and Blasphemy, write
as _merrily_ or _gravely_ as I please against the Letter.

Should any say, that this pretended Reason for waving this _First Head_
for the present, is nothing but Cowardice and Inability to write more on
it, I can't help it. _Ictus Piscator sapit_; I have already suffer'd
much for the ludicrous Treatment of the _Letter_, and it is Wisdom to
keep, if I can, out of the like Danger; neither will I do any thing,
that in Conscience I can forbear, to incur the Displeasure of the Civil
Magistrate. But however, if the _Bishop_ of _London_ would ensure me
against, what the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s calls, the[365] _Nominal_
Persecutions of _Protestants_, which I am more afraid of, than of the
_real_ Persecutions of _Papists_, I will soon enter upon this Head;
otherwise for Self-Preservation against the _nominal_ Sufferings of
Fines and Imprisonment, _&c._ I will forbear, promising my Readers, that
in due Time, and on a more proper Occasion, I will resume the _merry
Subject_ of the _Letter_, and handle it to their entire Satisfaction.

And when I resume _this Head_, I will begin where I before left off in
my _Discourses_ on _Miracles_; that is, with the Resurrection of
_Jesus_, which tho' I believe to have been a miraculous Fact, that
happen'd, yet it was by no means timed and circumstanced, so as easily
and readily to conciliate the Belief of Posterity. God has given to Man
Reason to judge of the Credibility of Events, and the Certainty of
Miracles: And if the Reason of every Man does not disapprove of the
Management of that Event, (supposing it has no figurative Meaning in it)
I am much mistaken, when we come to state a Case, how such a Miracle
ought to be wrought and conducted, to get and preserve the Credit of it.

Thus having told my Readers, why I postpone my _First Head_, I now
enter upon the _Second_, which is

II. To shew, that whether there be any Sense, Truth and Fact, or not,
in the literal Stories of _Jesus_'s Miracles, yet they are all
certainly typical Facts, and ought to be allegorically interpreted,
and will receive a mysterious and more wonderful Accomplishment after
the Manner, and to the same Purpose, that the Fathers and I do apply
them, being no other (whether actually wrought or not) than Figures,
Signs and Emblems of his future and mysterious Operations.

If the Authority of the Fathers would be admitted of, as decisive on
_this Head_, there would soon be an End of all Controversy upon it.
Give me Leave to recite some of their Testimonies to this Purpose,
which I have heretofore urg'd in my _Discourses_. _Origen_ says[366]
That _Jesus_'s Works were _Symbols_ of other Things to be done by his
Power. St. _Hilary_[367] says, That _Jesus_'s Actions bore a
Resemblance of what he would do hereafter. St. _Augustin_[368] says,
That the Facts of _Jesus_ are Signs of somewhat else to be done by
him. And _Eusebius Gallicanus_[369] says, That our Saviour manifestly
shews, that his Miracles are of a spiritual Signification, or in the
Work of them he would not have done somewhat or other, that seems to
want Sense and Reason. These few, out of a Multitude of Citations from
the Fathers that might be produced, are sufficient to the Proof of the
present Proposition, if their Authority might determine our Dispute.
And most pertinent Citations they are too, tho' _Bishop
Smalbroke_[370] says, _that even the Passages cited by me from the
Fathers, that are not falsified, are impertinent_; which is such an
extravagant Stretch against the most glaring Truth, that (to use the
Bishop's[371] own Words against himself) _it betrays a Mind lost to
all Sense of Modesty and Religion_, or he could not have utter'd it.

And not only the Miracles of _Jesus_ were Signs and Figures of future
Events; but, according to _Origen_,[372] _every thing else that he did_:
From whence we may gather what was _Origen_'s Meaning, when he said[373]
_Christ's first_ Advent in the Flesh is all Type and Shadow of his
_second_, spiritual, and glorious Coming; which being an _Opinion_ that
our _Clergy_ are Strangers to, I desire them to consider of it, and
whether there is any Possibility of Truth in it, because it is contrary
to modern Conceptions about _Christ's second_ Advent.

Nay further, according to the Fathers,[374] the very Life and
Ministry of _John_ the _Baptist_, so far as it is recorded by the
_Evangelists_, is Type and Figure of another's Ministry before
Christ's spiritual Advent; and I am almost, if not altogether of the
same Mind with them. It is beside my present Business, to insert here
many of their Testimonies to this Purpose: But if the _Bishop_ of _St.
David_'s would spare a little Time, which can't be better employ'd,
and make a Collection of the Opinions of the Fathers about the
_Baptist_'s Ministry, and print it, I dare say he'll thereupon present
the learned World with the most surprizing Curiosity they ever were
entertain'd with. Tho' it is improper for me to do such a Work; yet I
will here tell my _Readers_ what will be the true Meaning of _John's
Preaching Repentance, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand_, when his
Ministry revives, _viz._ "It will be an Exhortation to Ministers of
the Letter, μετανοειν, to reconsider the Matter and Error of their
literal Expositions, and to betake themselves to spiritual and
allegorical Interpretations of the Scriptures, in which allegorical
and spiritual Senses of them consists the _Kingdom of Heaven_." This
I assert upon the Authority of _Origen_,[375] and if the _Clergy_
please to consult St. _Austin_ and others, they'll find them of the
same Mind. But, this by the by, having no more to say to the
Typicalness of _John_'s Ministry, than whenever his foresaid mystical
Preaching of Repentance shall revive, it can hardly be to a more
viperous Generation of Ecclesiastical _Scribes_ and _Pharisees_, than
are the _Ministers_ of the _Letter_ at this present.

But against all these, and Ten Thousand more Testimonies of the
Fathers for the allegorical Interpretation of the Writings of the
_Evangelists_, and of _Jesus_'s Miracles in particular, the _Bishop_
of _St. David_'s says, the Fathers are not of good Authority in this
Case, but, for all them, who were Men of whimsical and volatile
Fancies, we ought to adhere to the _Letter_ of the Story of _Christ_'s
Life and Miracles. This the _Bishop_ asserts roundly and frequently in
express or implicit Terms, as his Readers may observe; and I dare say,
the _Bishop_ himself will not here charge me with a Misrepresentation
of his Opinion, tho', to spare Time and Paper, I quote not his own
Words and large Passages.

What Reason does the _Bishop_ give, why the Authority of the Fathers for
the allegorical Interpretation of the Evangelical Writings, and of
_Jesus_'s Miracles, in particular, is not to be allow'd of? None at all.
Does he quote so much as a Canon of the Church, or a Vote in
Convocation, or an Act of Parliament, or the consentient Opinion of all
Protestant _Writers_ (which are the extrascriptural Standards of modern
Orthodoxy) for his Opinion? No. Does he then reject the Authority of the
Fathers in all other Cases, as well as in _this_ before us? Nor this
neither. He allows their Authority,[376] as they were good Persons and
credible Witnesses, "In Testimony of _Facts_; "And about the Observation
of the Lord's Day; "And concerning the three Orders of the _Clergy_;
"And about the Government of the Church by Bishops; "And about the Books
received into the Canon of the Scripture;" But as for allegorical
Interpretations of the Scriptures, they are of _little_, and (elsewhere)
of _no_ Authority. Who can forbear smiling, unless the _Bishop_ had
better _evinced_ the Reason of this Difference in their Authority? If
he had rejected their Authority in all Cases, he would have judged more
equally and impartially of it.

In my Opinion, and I appeal to my _Readers_, whether it ben't their
Opinion, that the _Bishop_ had been an ingenuous and plain Dealer, if
he had express'd himself about the Authority of the Fathers in this
following Manner, saying, "That the Authority of the Fathers is good
in _such_ and _such_ Cases as aforesaid; because their Authority is
agreeable enough to the present Doctrine, Practice and Discipline of
the Church: But the Authority of the Fathers is not good for the
allegorical Interpretation of the _New Testament_, because it is
disagreeable to our Prejudices, and because their allegorical
Expositions of some Miracles, if they should receive such a Sense,
will bring Shame and Reproach to our Ministry. Neither is the
Authority of the Fathers for Toleration, and against Persecution,
good; because it is destructive of Ecclesiastical Power. Nor is the
copious Authority of the Fathers against Preaching for Hire, good;
because it is averse to our Interests. Where the Authority of the
Fathers is agreeable to our Interests, Power, and Prejudices, there
will we be for the Authority of the Fathers: But where the Fathers
are against us, there will we be against them; and why should we not?"
This is the true Sense of the _Bishop_, tho' he is so unhappy as to
want the Talent clearly and plainly to express his Mind.

But, like many others, who can't write Coherence, nor consistently with
themselves; so the _Bishop_, for all his saying that the allegorical
Interpretations of Scripture by the Fathers are of little or no
Authority, yet almost, if not altogether, contradicts himself, and
grants as much as I desire, saying[377] thus, "With relation to any
Expositions of Scripture made by the Fathers in early Times, they must
be allow'd to have had _some_ Advantage in being near to the Fountain
itself." I ask for nothing more from the Bishop. Why do I contend for
the Authority of the Fathers as Interpreters and Expositors? Only
because they lived nearer to the Days of _Christ_ and his Apostles,
whose Mind and Will consequently they must needs know better, than we at
this Distance: And because (what the _Bishop_ elsewhere grants) those
primitive Ages, as well as the Apostolical one, were in some measure
inspired, upon the credible Testimonies of _Origen_, _Irenæus_, and
_Eusebius_, whose Words I shall not stay here to produce.

Hence then, in the Authority of the Fathers, I should think, there is
Foundation enough to build allegorical Interpretations on, and
particularly to prove the literal Stories of Christ's Miracles to be
Emblems of future and mysterious Operations; but all this will not do
to pacify and stop the Mouths of my Gainsayers. This Controversy is
_pro Aris & Focis_, for the ALL of the Clergy that is dear to them;
and therefore they will shuffle and trifle for and against any
Argument, rather than yield. Tho' the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s above
speaks favourably of _Expositions made by the Fathers in early Times_,
and may grant that the Church, in her first Ages was inspired, yet he
will still wrangle against allegorical Interpretations, especially
such as I have made on some Miracles; as for Instance, "On _Jesus_'s
driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple; "On his
precipitating the Swine with the Devils into the Sea; "On his healing
the Woman of an Issue of Blood; and the Woman of a Spirit of
Infirmity, _&c._ because the Interests and Reputations of the
_Clergy_, as _Ministers_ of the _Letter_, are touch'd to the quick by
them. So true is that Saying of the _Bishop_ of _London_, which
deserves to be repeated, That "where there is an Unwillingness to part
with Prejudices and worldly Interests, there must of Course be a
_Desire_ that the Christian Religion (_which consists in the Ministry
of the Spirit_) should not be true; and a _Willingness_ to favour and
embrace any Argument that is brought against it, and to cherish any
Doubts and Scruples that shall be rais'd concerning it.

What must I do here then, since no Authority, no, not the most
primitive, will suffice in this Case? Why, I have nothing left to do,
but absolutely to demonstrate, and make the Matter as plain as a
_Pike-Staff_, that the Miracles of _Jesus_ will certainly receive such
a mysterious Accomplishment, as the Fathers and I have before-hand
interpreted them in. Upon such a Demonstration, if the Mouths of my
Adversaries are not stopt, yet the Eyes of all impartial _Readers_
will be open'd to behold what a Heap of Impertinence the _Bishop_ of
_St. David_'s and others, have hitherto urg'd against me.

Now to demonstrate absolutely, that the Stories of _Jesus_'s Miracles
will receive such a mysterious Accomplishment, as I, by the Help of
the Fathers, have understood them in, I must do these _two_ things.

_First_, show, that the Old Testament is to be allegorically
interpreted, and is already in Part, and will be entirely fulfilled by
_Jesus_, the true _Messiah_, in an allegorical Sense. And thence

_Secondly_, Infer by a natural, obvious, and necessary Consequence,
that, what we vulgarly call the New Testament is to be allegorically
interpreted also, even in the Manner as I have understood some Parts of

The _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s allows, that there is better Authority,
tho' not sufficient, for the Interpretation of the _Old Testament_
allegorically; but supposing it was better than it is, yet there is no
Consequence that the _New_ should be also allegorically interpreted.
Behold his Words, for fear of a Charge of Misrepresentation[378]. "But
besides this ill-founded Imitation of St. _Paul_ (in allegorical
Interpretations of the _Old_ Testament) will his mystical Expositions of
any Passages of the Old Testament support their Pretensions (meaning the
Fathers and mine) to interpret the _New_ in a like mystical manner? No,
it will not.----And therefore (_after a little more Reasoning against
this Consequence, he concludes, that_) this Practice of _Origen_ and
other Fathers, that were mystical Expositors of the _New Testament_, was
very precarious, and without Authority." From which Words of the
_Bishop_, it is plain, that his Opinion is, that whatever Authority
there may be for the allegorical Interpretation of the _Old_ Testament,
there is no Consequence to be thence drawn, that the _New_ is to be
interpreted in a like mystical manner. But in Answer to the _Bishop_,
and in Confutation of his wild and inconsiderate Assertion, I chuse to
treat on the two foregoing Particulars; and the

_First_ is to show, that the _Old_ Testament is to be allegorically
interpreted, and is already in Part, and will be entirely fulfilled by
_Jesus_ in an allegorical Sense.

That the _Old_ Testament is to be allegorically interpreted, I have
Authority, even ancient Authority enough, if that would be allow'd to be
sufficient to prove my Point. We have Apostolical Authority and Example
for it. The Passages in the Epistles of St. _Paul_ and _Barnabas_ to
this Purpose are numerous, and so well known, that I need not recite
all, or any of them. And from the Passages in St. _Paul_, that might be
here produced, the Fathers asserted and concluded from his Authority,
that the whole _Old_ Testament was to be allegorized. This I believe the
_Bishop_ will grant, and spare me the Pains of Citations out of them.
And if the _Bishop_, and my other _Adversaries_, were of the same Mind
with the Fathers, on St. _Paul_'s Expressions in relation to allegorical
Interpretations of the _Old_ Testament, my present Dispute with them
would be half over. And what is the Reason that the _Bishop_ and others
will not give into the Opinion of the Fathers on the Apostolical
Passages to this Purpose? Because of their Prejudices to the _Letter_ of
the _Old Testament_, otherwise they would urge St. _Paul_'s Authority
for the _Spirit_ of it, as much as the Fathers or I can do. But being, I
say, prepossess'd of _literal_ Interpretations, and not discerning any
Force and Truth in _spiritual_ ones, they will not allow the mystical
Expositions of Scripture by _Origen_ and other Fathers, tho' made in
Imitation of St. _Paul_, to be of good Authority. And therefore I must
demonstrate to Sense and Reason, or Primitive and Apostolical Authority
will stand me in no stead.

Again, If Authority for allegorical Interpretations of the _Old_
Testament would avail any thing, there is ancienter, and I had like to
have said _better_, Authority for them, than _that_ of the Fathers
and Apostles, _viz._ the Authority of the more ancient _Jews_. The
Bishop of _St. David_'s[379] says, "The Christian Fathers (and why did
he not say the _Apostles_ too?) derived this allegorical Practice from
the Jewish Interpreters." He owns[380] "that _Philo Judæus_ was a
great mystical Writer as his Works which are extant testify"; and[381]
confesses that "there is Reason to believe, that this mystical Way of
expounding Scripture was of greater Antiquity than _Philo_ himself,
even amongst the _Essens_ and _Therapeuts_, whom _Philo_ writes of,
and who had amongst them several ancient Books of their Predecessors
or Founders, full of allegorical Interpretations." Thus far the
_Bishop_ says well and truly. And what Observation should he, as a
Lover of Antiquity, have made hereupon? Should he not have said, _Id
verius, quod prius_; the older any Doctrine was, the more likely to be
true, in as much as Truth precedes Error?

But could not the Bishop have carry'd his Story of the allegorical
Interpretation of the _Old Testament_ much higher? Yes, he might, and
have told us what I do him now, that the LXX Interpreters were
_Allegorists_, as appears from the Translation itself, and from the
Opinion of the ancient Jews and Fathers of the Church concerning them.
And what's more still, he might, as a Christian, upon the Authority of
St. _Hilary_[382] have derived the allegorical Art of Interpretation
from _Moses_ himself, who received it from God; and instructed the
_Seventy Elders_ in it, from whom it continued thro' all Ages of the
Jewish and Christian Churches, without Interruption, excepting that
Opposition which the later _Caraites_ of the Jews, and _Ministers_ of
the _Letter_ among Christians, have made to it. If this be true, as I
firmly believe it, then the allegorical Method of Interpretation is of
original and divine Right. And it is reasonable to think accordingly,
that it is of _Mosaic_ and _divine_ Extraction, or the Apostles _Paul_
and _Barnabas_, and the Fathers afterwards, had never been permitted of
God to countenance a Practice, in Imitation of the _Jews_, if it was of
a base, or of any other than _divine_ Original. The Consequence is,
that we at this Day ought to be allegorical Interpreters of the _Old
Testament_, or we set ourselves against all Antiquity, and oppose a
Tradition that's like a Command, derived from _Moses_ and God himself.

And what can the _Bishop_ of St. _David_'s say to this Consequence?
Why, he'll tell us, tho' the allegorical Method of Interpretation be
as ancient as the _Therapeuts_ and some of their Predecessors, yet,
whatever the _Jews_ and Fathers may say of its Antiquity, it came not
from God and _Moses_, or he would subscribe to it; but took its Rise,
some Ages after the Giving of the Law of _Moses_, tho' he knows not
how nor when. And I am willing the _Bishop_ should please himself with
such an Answer and Opinion, till I have absolutely demonstrated the
Certainty of the allegorical Method, and thence made it manifest, that
it is of Mosaick and divine Original.

As to that other Account[383] of the Original of mystical Interpretation
of Scripture, or at least of the greater Progress and Improvement of it,
which the _Bishop_ out of _Porphyry_ gives, by saying the Fathers
learned it of the gentile Philosophers, it is the most senseless and
_unscholarlike_ Opinion that a Christian can hold, and I was surprised
to see it come from him. It is true that St. _Clement_ of _Alexandria_,
_Origen_, and others, were very conversant in the Writings of the
_Greek_ Philosophers: And wherefore were they so? Was it to learn
mystical Theology of them? No, but, as St. _Jerom_[384] says, to confirm
the Doctrines of our Religion, and to confute the _Gentiles_ out of
their own Books. For it was asserted by the Fathers, and confess'd by
the _Gentile_ Philosophers, that the Mythology of the _Greeks_, the
hieroglyphical Learning of the _Egyptians_ and the Oneirocritism of the
_Chaldæans_, was all borrowed from the _Hebrews_, and had their Rise
from the mystical and allegorical Interpretation of the Scriptures, as
shall be made manifest, if the _Bishop_ and I go on in this Controversy:
And _therefore_ the Fathers studied the Writings of the _Greeks_, and
made the foresaid Use of them in the Conversion of the _Gentiles_; which
the _Bishop_ can't but know, if he remembers at all, what he has read in
St. _Clement_ of _Alexandria_, and other Fathers. But this, by the by,
with a Hint to the _Bishop_ to consider, whether he, who holds here with
_Porphyry_, or I who hold with the Fathers, writes the most like an
_Infidel_. So much then to the Accounts, which the _Bishop_ of St.
_David_'s has given, of the Origine of the mystical Interpretation of

The _Bishop_ of _Litchfield_, who is to be looked on as a Writer in
this Controversy, has a large _Chapter_ against the allegorical Way of
Interpretation. I shall comprise his Opinion in a few Words out of
him. He says,[385] _he is not concerned to vindicate the Antiquity,
ascribed by_ Philo, _to the allegoric Way of writing, much less the
Abuse it was carry'd to in After-Ages; no, nor to defend, at all, this
Manner of writing_. And as to St. _Paul_'s allegorizing the
Scriptures, he says,[386] _It seems to be in compliance with the
Demand of the Jewish Christians, who were affected with allegoric
Interpretations, that St._ Paul (_who appears to have been no Fool_)
_above all the other Apostles used that Way, which he was brought into
against his own good liking_. And in another Place he says,[387] _The
Laws and Facts recorded by_ Moses, _are commonly interpreted to
natural, moral, theological and even anagogick Senses, which no one
supposed to have been ever in_ Moses_'s Thoughts, or to be other than
the Exercise of a subtle Wit, for the Instruction and Entertainment of
the Hearers_. Whether this _Bishop_ had his Wits about him, when he
said, _No one supposed the anagogick Senses of the Law to have been
ever in_ Moses_'s Thoughts_, I can't tell; but if he had rubb'd up his
Memory a little, he might have consider'd, what he says in another
Place,[388] that the Anagogical was the accustomed Way of the whole
Nation of the _Jews_ from _Moses_'s Time; and he might have known what
St. _Hilary_, whom I cited before, says, that _Moses_ taught the
Children of _Isræl_ the anagogical and allegorical Way; and whatever
he may think, _Origen_ says,[389] that _Moses_ by the Acuteness of his
Understanding, penetrated into the mystical and anagogical Meaning of
his own Law. And tho' this _Bishop_ says above, that he is not
concern'd to vindicate the Antiquity of the allegorick Way of writing;
yet I am oblig'd to vindicate its Antiquity and Truth, or I can't
write a good _Defence of Christianity_, which should now bring me (to
what I have undertaken) to make an absolute Demonstration of the
Certainty of the allegorical Method of Interpretation, and of
_Jesus_'s Messiahship upon it.

But before I enter upon a close Proof of this grand Undertaking, I must
beg leave to tell my Readers a Story, which tho' it will for while defer
my undertaken Demonstration, yet it is properly introductory to it. I
had not long drawn up my foregoing Thoughts, (against the two Bishops,
of _Litchfield_ and St. _David_'s) of the Jewish and Christian Antiquity
of the allegorical Method of Interpretation of Scripture, before I
imparted them to my old Friend the _Jewish Rabbi_, who is a Cabalist and
Allegorist, and desired his Sentiments upon them. Whereupon he was so
kind as to send me the following Letter, with a pertinent Objection in
it, against the Messiahship of the _Jesus_ of our _Ministers_ of the
_Letter_; with a pertinent, I say, and lucky Objection, which paves the
Way for my Demonstration of the Certainty of the allegorical Way of
Interpretation, and of the Messiahship of the _Jesus_ of us _Ministers_
of the _Spirit_; and if I can but prevail upon the two forenamed
_Bishops_, to give me their Assistance in answering the said Objection,
by humouring my Rabbi in it; we shall go a better Step, than has been
hitherto taken, for the Conversion of the _Jews_: And this is
Encouragement enough to such hearty Friends to Christianity as we are,
to set about so great and glorious a Work. The Letter is as follows.


     After condoling with you for the extraordinary Penalty that was
     laid on you for my Invective against _Jesus_'s Miracle of _turning
     Water into Wine_, which, in my Opinion, you should not have been so
     heavily charg'd with, because it was purely _Cabalistical_, and
     contains in it nothing better or worse than the Conceptions that we
     _Jews_ entertain of _Jesus_ and his Miracles; I here send you my
     Thoughts on the short Account you have given of the Antiquity of
     the allegorical Method of the Interpretation of Scripture.

     You and the Fathers of your Church are certainly in the right on't,
     to make it as old as _Moses_, agreeably to the Opinion, that we
     cabalistical _Jews_[390] at this Day entertain of it. If it was of
     later Date and original, your Adversaries are oblig'd to assign the
     Time _when_, and the Occasion _how_, such a surprising and
     extraordinary Method of Interpretation was introduced into the
     Jewish Nation. If our Ancestors in the Days of God's inspired
     Prophet, _Moses_, heard of none but literal Senses of the Law, and
     if neither he nor God himself ever intended they should run into
     the allegorical Strain, I ask when and what was _that Incident_
     which turn'd the Heads of our ancient Nation so religiously and
     devoutly to it? I can easily conceive how it came to pass, that the
     Sect of the _Caraites_ amongst us _Jews_, who now adhere to the
     Letter, deserted mystical Interpretations; and why your _Ministers_
     of the _Letter_ have forsaken them; and that was because they don't
     relish nor apprehend those divine Mysteries, which _your_ and _our_
     ancient Allegorists so much talk'd of, as veil'd and latent under
     the Law of _Moses_. But if this be a good Reason, why they have
     forsaken the allegorical Method, it is a much better Reason, why
     our Ancestors, of themselves should never have taken it up. And
     therefore it is plain to me, that God and _Moses_ upon the
     Institution of the Law, at the same Time imparted the allegorical
     Method; or it could never afterwards, _by chance_, have enter'd
     into the Heads of Men, who have hitherto discern'd so little Use
     and Fruits of it.

     The Reason why God by _Moses_ communicated to the _Israelites_, and
     by his Providence since has kept up the allegorical Way of
     Interpretation of the Scriptures, was to prepare the World for the
     Reception of the _Messiah_, who was to be the Accomplisher of them
     in an allegorical Sense; and our Ancestors accordingly so much
     excercised their Thoughts in divine and mystical Contemplations on
     the Law; because, they fancied, they could thereby, as through _a
     Glass darkly_, attain to some glimmering Foresight of the Kingdom
     of the _Messiah_: For you must know, that our old Cabalists[391]
     held (what your _Jesus_ undertook to fulfil) that all Things that
     were written in the Law and the Prophets, were, _to a Tittle_, Type
     and Prophecy of the _Messiah_, who would be so far the clear
     Fulfiller and Illustrater of them, as that Men would then see God
     _Face to Face_: And, to be particular, they expected, in the first
     Place, that the _Messiah_ would work the Redemption of his Church
     after the same manner, and by the like Signs and Wonders that
     _Moses_ wrought the Deliverance of the _Israelites_ out of _Egypt_.

     Agreeable to these our old Opinions of the Scripture, and to our
     Expectations of a _Messiah_, did the Fathers of your Church
     endeavour to prove _Jesus_'s Messiahship, by an allegorical
     Explication and Application of the Law and the Prophets to him: But
     in as much as they labour'd in vain, proving little or nothing,
     this Way, to the Satisfaction of our old _Jews_; and in as much as
     your Priesthood have altogether given over this Way of Proof; we
     persist in our Disbelief of _Jesus_'s Messiahship, and expect
     another for the foresaid grand Purposes. Give me Leave here to make
     an Objection, founded on the concurrent and consentient Opinions of
     _your_ Fathers and _our_ Ancestors, against the Messiahship of
     _Jesus_, which if your Priests can answer, agreeably to their
     united Opinions, they will not only make a Convert of me, but open
     a Door for the Conversion of our whole Nation.

     "It is agreed between us Jews, and you Christians (excepting two or
     three modern Commentators) that the Words of _Deuteronomy_, xviii.
     18. _I will raise them up a Prophet from among their Brethren like
     unto thee_, are a Prophecy of the Messiah. From which Prophecy our
     Ancestors[392] look'd upon _Moses_ as a Type of the Messiah, _in
     all Things_, and expected that the _Messiah_ at his coming would by
     way of Antitype, imitate and resemble _Moses_ in all the History of
     his Life, just as Face answereth to Face in a Glass, or as a
     Substance agrees to its Shadow. And I am well assured that the
     Fathers of your Church accordingly held and believed, what they
     endeavoured to prove, that there was an exact Similitude between
     _Jesus_ in the Christian Church, and _Moses_ in the Jewish. Now if
     your Priesthood can perfect that Proof, and show me, either in a
     literal or allegorical Sense, an exact Resemblance, Correspondence,
     and Likeness between them, I must of Necessity turn Christian. It
     may be perhaps a Work of too large an Extent for them to shew this
     Agreement between _Jesus_ and _Moses_ in all and every Particular;
     I will be content therefore, if they can shew me a Similitude
     between them in a small Part of _Moses_'s Life; as for Instance, in
     the History of _Moses_'s delivering the _Israelites_ out of
     _Egypt_. It was most expressly the Opinion of our Ancestors, that
     the Messiah would deliver his People from Bondage, and, if I forget
     not, from _Roman_ Bondage, after the Manner, and by the like
     Wonders, that _Moses_ delivered his People from _Egyptian_.
     _Jerom_,[393] a Father of your Church has recorded _this_ as the
     universal Opinion of our Ancestors, and therefore you have the less
     Reason to question it. And agreeably to this Opinion of our
     Ancestors, the Fathers of your Church asserted, that _Christ_ was
     such a _Messiah_, and did deliver his Church from _Roman_
     Servitude, after the same Manner (in a Figure) that _Moses_
     delivered his _Israelites_ out of _Egypt_. Nay, your Apostle
     _Paul_[394] seems to assert it, saying, _Brethren, I would not,
     that ye should be ignorant, how that all our Fathers were under the
     Cloud, and all passed through the Sea, and were all baptized unto
     Moses in the Cloud and in the Sea. Now these things were our
     Examples or Types._ In which Words _Paul_ apparently alludes to,
     and confirms the Opinion of our Ancestors, which he had imbibed
     before his Conversion; and intimates that _Jesus_, whom he took for
     the _Messiah_, was working a Redemption of his Church after the
     Manner of the Deliverance of the _Israelites_ out of _Egypt_. And
     so did your Fathers understand these Words of _Paul_, and
     accordingly many of them labour'd to shew the Similitude between
     the _Israelitish_ and _Christian_ Redemption, in order to the
     Conversion of the _Jews_. But they, it seems, labour'd in vain,
     shewing no tolerable nor visible Likeness of this sort between
     _Jesus_ and _Moses_; and therefore our Nation to this Day continues
     in Disbelief of _Jesus_'s Messiahship. However, we have not so
     pertinaciously rejected _Jesus_'s Messiahship, as not to give you
     Leave to resume the old Argument of it, from his Likeness to
     _Moses_ in all things. If your _Priests_ can now show a Likeness
     between them; if they can at this Day prove that _Jesus_ wrought
     the like Miracles and Wonders (tho' in a figurative and allegorical
     Sense) for the Redemption of his Church from _Roman_ Servitude, as
     _Moses_ did for the Deliverance of _Israelites_ out of _Egypt_, we
     will grant him to be the _Messiah_, and will believe in him. But as
     we despair of such a Proof, so we reasonably persist in our
     Disbelief of his Messiahship. Your _Divines_ indeed, because of the
     foresaid Prophecy in _Deuteronomy_, do talk of a Likeness between
     _Moses_ and _Jesus_; but it is not at all agreeable to the
     Sentiments of _your_ Fathers, or the Expectations of _our_
     Ancestors concerning the _Messiah_'s Similitude to _Moses_. They
     tell us, that _Jesus_ and _Moses_ were alike, because both wrought
     Miracles; but this will not do, till they prove a Likeness between
     their Miracles, as to Number, Nature, Use and Circumstance. The
     Miracles that the _Messiah_ is to work, and which are to prove his
     Messiahship, must be of a similar Nature, and to the like Purpose
     that _Moses_'s were in _Egypt_, as _our_ Ancestors asserted, and
     _your_ Fathers granted: But since no such Similitude is shown to be
     between them, we disown _Jesus_'s Messiahship, and appeal to the
     Reason and Understanding of all indifferent Judges in the
     Controversy, whether we are not in the right on't for so doing."

     Thus, Sir, for the Use of your _Clergy_, have I form'd an Objection
     against _Jesus_'s Messiahship, an Objection that is founded on the
     concurrent Opinions of _our_ Ancestors and of _your_ Fathers: And I
     shall with some Longings and Impatience wait till I hear what they
     have to say to it. The Objection, in my Opinion, absolutely
     destroys _Jesus_'s Pretences to the Messiahship, unless his
     _Priests_, by way of Answer to it, can prove the foresaid
     Similitude between him and _Moses_; between the Miracles of the One
     and the Miracles of the Other; between the Deliverance of the
     _Jewish_ and the Redemption of the _Christian_ Church, out of an

     I am thinking what your _Clergy_ can say to the Objection. Will
     they deny, that it was the Opinion of both _your_ Fathers and of
     _our_ Ancestors, that there ought to be such a Similitude between
     the _Messiah_ and _Moses_, as is before describ'd? That they can't
     do, because of the innumerable Testimonies to be produced out of
     them to confirm it. Will they then say, that it was a false and
     erroneous Opinion, which both ancient Jews and Fathers entertain'd
     concerning the _Messiah_? This surely they will not do; because of
     the Consequence, which charges the Apostle _Paul_ himself (in the
     above-cited Place) and the primitive Christians, with the grossest
     Error and Mistake concerning _Jesus_ and his Messiahship; and yet
     I can't think they will ever give into the joint Opinion aforesaid
     of both _Jews_ and Fathers; because of the Impossibility of proving
     _Jesus_ to be like _Moses in all Things_, according to the literal
     Sense of the Law, which they adhere to; and because of the
     Improbability of doing it, in an allegorical Sense, after the Way
     of their Fathers, or, in all this Time surely, the Matter must have
     been made out, to the Satisfaction and Conversion of our Nation.

     I long, I tell you, to hear what your Christian _Priesthood_ will
     say to the Objection, which surely they will not let slip, without
     their Remarks and Observations upon it, any more than my Objections
     against the literal Story of some of _Jesus_'s Miracles. And this
     is your and my Comfort, that if you publish this present Objection
     against _Jesus_'s Messiahship, the _Clergy_ can't account it a
     ludicrous, profane, and blasphemous one (as they did my others) and
     so bring you again under Prosecution for it: No, it is a plain,
     serious, and reasonable Objection, founded on ancient Jewish and
     Ecclesiastical Authority; and a pertinent, solid, and rational
     Answer is expected to it.

     Now the Controversy about _Jesus_'s Messiahship is thus far revived
     and commenced, let us, in God's Name, go on with it, till we come
     to a final Determination, either in the Demonstration, or
     Confutation of it. Your _Clergy_, can't, I think, for Shame, any
     more interrupt the free Course of the Controversy, which will make
     us Jews secretly insult and triumph over them; and not only confirm
     us in our Unbelief of _Jesus_'s Messiahship, but will occasion
     others to desert their Faith in him.

     It's a strange thing to consider how your Priesthood have, in these
     latter Ages, managed the Controversy between Jews and Christians,
     all by themselves, furiously disputing against Adversaries, whom
     they will not allow with Impunity to speak in their own Cause: So
     do they make God, who is to decide the Controversy, like an unjust
     and partial Judge, that will hear only the Pleadings and Evidence
     on one Side of the Question.

     But your _Clergy_ will say, that in their Writings against the
     Jews, they make Objections for us as well as Answers for
     themselves, and that's sufficient. Not so, say I, unless their
     Objections were as good and strong as we can make for our selves.
     But however, if your _Divines_ so please, I will thus agree the
     Matter with them, _viz._ That they alone shall make Objections for
     us, if they'll let us alone to make Answers for them, which is most
     just and equal; and then the World shall behold the most pleasant
     and comical _Farce_ of a Controversy, they ever were entertain'd

     I remember, that in my Letter, you published, against _Jesus_'s
     Resurrection, I promised the Controversy between the _Jews_ and
     _Christians_, by my Consent, should turn on that Miracle. Your
     _Clergy_, one or other of them, have answer'd that _Letter_; and so
     might expect to hear of my Conversion, if I had nothing to reply to
     them. My Reply you durst not publish, for fear of worldly
     Tribulation, and so I am free from that Promise. But now that you
     have fortunately given me an Occasion to make the more proper and
     substantial Objection against _Jesus_'s Messiahship, herein
     contain'd, I hope it will be freely and fully debated and
     consider'd to the Determination of the Controversy between us. So
     wishing you Health and Happiness, I am _Yours_,

  _N. N._

So ends the Letter of my good old Friend, the Jewish _Rabbi_, which
was a most seasonable and acceptable Present, in as much as the
Objection, contain'd in it, will open a fair Way for me to prove,
that the Stories of _Jesus_'s Miracles, as recorded in the
Evangelists, are and ought to be allegorically understood, and will
certainly receive such a mystical Accomplishment, as I, by the Help of
the Fathers, have conceived of them. The _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s,
and my other Adversaries, may not, in all Probability, be aware of
this Use to be made of the foresaid Objection; and I don't expect that
on a sudden they should; but if they'll favour me with, what otherwise
I'll endeavour to force them to, their Opinion and Debates about the
foresaid Objection against _Jesus_'s Messiahship, they shall soon
discern this Use and Consequence of it, that _Jesus_'s Miracles are
not _literally_ but _allegorically_ to be understood, and will
accordingly receive an Accomplishment.

I trust then, that the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s, who is principally
concern'd, will, without more Importunity, favour me with his Opinion
on the foregoing _Jewish_ Objection, which may be done in a small
Compass of Paper, either in _Print_, or in an _Epistle_.

I expect he should tell me plainly and expressly, whether it was
really the joint Opinion of the ancient _Jews_ and Fathers of the
Church, as is affected in the Objection, that the _Messiah_ was to be
a Prophet like _Moses_ in all things, in the whole History of his
Life, and particularly with regard to the miraculous Deliverance of
the _Israelites_ out of _Egypt_. If the _Bishop_ should, what I humbly
conceive he will not, deny that it was the joint Opinion of both
_Jews_ and Fathers, as is before represented in the Objection, and
should pretend to urge Reasons and Authorities, which he will hardly
find, why such a Likeness and Agreement between the _Messiah_ and
_Moses_ ought not to be look'd for; then my _Rabbi_ and I will confirm
the joint Opinion aforesaid, with Citations, almost innumerable out of
the _Jews_ and Fathers, till the _Bishop_ shall yield to the Number
and Clearness of them.

If the _Bishop_ should own, what I am almost persuaded he will, that
it was the joint Opinion of Fathers and _Jews_, that there ought to be
such a Similitude and Harmony between the _Messiah_ and _Moses_, as is
represented above; but should say, that it was an erroneous and false
Opinion, which the old Cabalistical _Jews_, by chance, and
unfortunately took up; and which the Fathers, even the Apostle
himself, unwarily and unhappily run into, complying with an Opinion of
the _Jews_ about the _Messiah_, without Consideration of the Weakness
of it; then I, with a little of my _Rabbi_'s Help, will further prove
the Truth and Certainty of the said Opinion, and demonstrate, that He
can be no true Messiah, who in the History of himself and of his
Church does not exactly, _to a tittle_, correspond to the History of
_Moses_ and of his People.

But if the _Bishop_ should, what I am willing to hope he will,
ingenuously confess, there ought to be such an Agreement and Likeness
between _Moses_ and the _Messiah_ as is signified in the Objection,
then he and I will go heartily to Work, and for the Honour of _Jesus_,
whom we believe to be the _Messiah_, will absolutely demonstrate the
Similitude, there is between him and _Moses in all Things_. And this,
by the by, in the Opinion of our Fathers, is the _ONLY_ Way to prove
_Jesus_'s Messiahship, _viz._ by his Resemblance to _Moses_, and by
his Accomplishment of the Mosaick Types and Prophecy concerning him,
who, upon his own Word, came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets _to a

If the _Bishop_ and I should be so fortunate, and I trust in God we
shall, as to prove a most apparent and manifest Likeness between _Jesus_
and _Moses_, even such a Likeness as my _Rabbi_ above demands, then
shall we stop his Mouth, and soon pave a certain Way (which will be vast
Honour to the _Bishop_) for the Conversion of the _Jews_.

I don't despair of the _Bishop_'s joint Labours and Endeavours with
mine to so great and good a Work (for I can't think in my Heart, that
he'll otherwise wrangle about the Objection above) so (if the _Bishop_
pleases) we'll begin this Work with a Demonstration of the Likeness
there is between the Redemption of the _Christian_ Church, and the
Deliverance of the _Israelitish_ out of _Egypt_. Not only St.
_Augustin_[395] hints that they who would show a Likeness between
_Jesus_ and _Moses_ ought to begin here; but thereby we shall humour
my _Rabbi_ in his Objection, who calls for (upon the concurrent
Testimonies of _Jews_ and Fathers) a Proof of such a Likeness between
the Redemptions of the two Churches, or he shall think it reasonable
still to persist in his Disbelief of _Jesus_'s Messiahship.

And if the _Bishop_ and I should be so happy as to shew in an apparent
Manner, this Similitude between the Redemption of the Jewish and
Christian Church out of _Egypt_, then meeting with Success in our
Studies, will we proceed further, and illustrate other Prophecies of
succeeding Times of the Church; for I will not part with the _Bishop_,
till he is able to travel by himself, in his Contemplations on the Law
and the Prophets, and to behold, what with an ordinary _Telescope_ at
the Eyes of his Understanding he may discern, and show to his Episcopal
Brethren, _Christ_ spiritually sitting and coming on the Clouds of the
_Letter_ to the same Purposes that the old Jews, Fathers and Apostles
say he is to come, _viz._ To open and illustrate the Parables and
Ænigma's of the Scriptures, to restore Prophecy, to shew us God Face to
Face; and to raise All from a spiritual Death to Life again. And blessed
are all those, who love and desire such his Appearance.

In my _Third Discourse_ on _Miracles_, I happen'd to speak of
_Christ_'s second and spiritual Advent on the Clouds of the Law and
Prophets; and to say "that the common Notion of his Coming on ærial
Clouds for the Resurrection of dead Bodies, _&c._ is the most
senseless and unphilosophical, that ever was taught to Mankind;" which
gave Offence to my _Bishop_, who animadverted upon me for it; but if
he ever get Sight, which I don't question, of _Christ_'s Coming on
the metaphorical Clouds of Prophecy, he'll not only be of my Mind
here, but will be sensible with me, that all or most of our
systematical Divinity, that is built on the _Letter_ of the
Scriptures, is false and groundless; and of that ill Tendency to the
Corruption of Mens Morals, that it is not so much a Wonder, that wise,
good, and thinking _Gentlemen_ are betaking themselves to Natural
Religion, as it is, that there are any Believers of Christianity, upon
the _Literal Scheme_, left among us. If it had not been _Force_, more
than _Reason_, that has hitherto kept Mankind in their Christian
Faith; or if Liberty had been indulg'd them to consider the
Absurdities of the _Letter_ of the Scriptures, they would have run ere
now, by Shoals, into Infidelity: But the allegorical Interpretation
(which the Cabalistical _Jews_[396] say, will convert _Atheists_) will
reduce Mankind to the Belief of the inspired Authority of the
Scriptures, by shewing them the perfect _Reason_, the divine _Wisdom_,
and resplendent _Truth_ of them; otherwise call'd the Messiah, the
χρισμα, the Spirit, or the _Christ_ of them, than _whom_, or than
_which_ nothing can be more desired by Philosophers, to come for the
spiritual Renovation, Restoration, Resurrection and Illumination of
Man; _consequently_ and implicitly for the Work of those mystical
Miracles, of which those wrought by _Christ_ in the Flesh are but
Types and Figures. Whether the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s be already
apprised of this Consequence, I can't tell; but if he rub his
Intellects but a little, he must needs apprehend the Consequence of
the foresaid spiritual Advent of _Christ thus_ far "That Ministers of
the Letter then are certainly to be turn'd out of the Church: "That
the Woman of the Church then will be cured of her Infirmity at the
Spirit of Prophesy: "That the Eyes of Mankind, like the blind Man's,
will be then open'd to see, what he has hitherto been dark about, the
Mystery of the Providence of God in all Ages. And so of the mystical
Accomplishment of the other Miracles, with a little Application of
Thought, may he discern the Consequence. And when he does so, then he
will see too, what sort of a Christian I am, whom our _Ecclesiasticks_
have falsely accused, and unjustly persecuted for Impiety,
Profaneness, Blasphemy and Infidelity, only because I have written
against the _Letter_ of _Jesus_'s Miracles, in order to turn Mens
Heads to the Consideration of their mystical Accomplishment at
_Christ_'s second spiritual and glorious Advent on the Clouds of the
Law and the Prophets.

I have indeed written against the _literal_ Stories of _Jesus_'s
Miracles, which I still nauseate and abominate the Confinement of Mens
Thoughts to it; but if our _Clergy_ would but a little bear with me,
they shall see, I _alone_ do Honour to their literal Stories, by
making them beautiful Emblems of future and more wonderful Operations.
I have indeed call'd _Jesus_ an Impostor, Juggler, Fortune teller (and
what not?) by way of Objection against the _Letter_ of his Miracles;
but I _alone_ shall do him Honour, in those very Miracles, which he
wrought in the Flesh, by proving him to be the Wisdom, as well as
Power of God, and that _God was in him of a Truth_, and endued him
with a divine Prescience of Futurities, or he could not then have
wrought such curious and admirable Models and Prefigurations of his
mysterious Works at his _second_ Advent.

Whether the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s, and others, can as yet
certainly discern the foresaid Consequence of Christ's mystical
Accomplishment of his Miracles upon his spiritual Advent, I can't
guess; but if they'll favour me with their Opinion on my _Rabbi_'s
Objection above, which will lead us to the allegorical Interpretation
of the Law, they shall soon clearly see it.

And now I would have the _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s to compare _this
Part_ of my _Defence_ with the _Third Chapter_ of his _Vindication_,
which treats _on the Practice of the Fathers in interpreting the
Scriptures in a mystical and allegorical Method_, and consider whether
He or I write the most like a Christian of an orthodox and primitive
Faith and Practice. The _Bishop_ says[397] "That it is certain, that
without such Assistance (_of the Spirit_) as St. _Paul_ enjoy'd, the
mystical Expositions of the Scripture by _Origen_ and other Fathers,
tho' made in Imitation of St. _Paul_, have no such Authority as that
of St. _Paul_ stampt on them." What, in the Name of Wonder, does the
_Bishop_ here mean? Tho' St. _Paul_ has not allegoriz'd the whole Law,
but only some few Parts; yet he expressly says, often enough, that the
whole is a _Figure_ and _Shadow_ of Things to come under _Christ_; and
our Saviour himself, as the Fathers understood him, intimates often,
that all Things that were written in the Law and the Prophets, are
Types and Prophecy of him, and that he came to fulfil them _to a
Tittle_. Is not here Authority enough for the Fathers to allegorize
the whole Law and the Prophets, in order to shew the Agreement between
the Type and Antitype; between the Shadow and the Substance; between
the Figure and the Thing figured; and between the Prophecy and its
Accomplishment. And whether the Fathers, in their allegorical
Expositions, rightly or not, hit off the Sense of the Prophecy; (for
it must be confess'd they variously allegorized _this_ and _that_
Passage of Scripture) yet it was _their_ and _our_ Duty and Office,
from the Words of _Christ_, and the Practice of the Apostle, to keep
on in the allegorical Method, till an Harmony between the Prophecy and
its Accomplishment was made most clear.

The _Bishop_ says in this his _Third Chapter_ of his _Vindication_,
"That the Fathers and I have abusively cited this Passage of St.
_Paul_, _The Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life_, in
Justification of our mystical Expositions;" whereupon the _Bishop_
gave us a large Explication out of his own Head, on that whole Verse;
which (because of the Shallowness of my own Pate, or the Confusion of
the Bishop's) I don't understand, and much question, whether the
_Bishop_ understands himself. However, I will here paraphrastically
give my _Readers_ the easy, plain, and intelligible Sense of the
Fathers and my self on that whole Verse[398] thus, _Who hath made us
able Ministers of the New Testament, not of the Letter_ [that is, not
of the literal Sense of the Law and the Prophets, which is the _Old_
Testament] _but of the Spirit_, [that is, of the spiritual Sense of
the Law and the Prophets, which is the _New_ Testament] _for_ [as the
Testimony of _Jesus_, according to St. _John_, is the Spirit of
Prophecy, so] _the Letter_ [that is, the literal Sense of the Law and
Prophets] _killeth_ [that is, nulls the Testimony of _Jesus_ which is
in them] _but the Spirit_ [that is, the spiritual Sense of the Law and
Prophets] _giveth Life_ [to their prophetical Testimony.] This is most
certainly the Sense of the Fathers on this Text; and I believe the
_Bishop_ will not gainsay it, tho' he may dislike it. Hence the
Fathers, when they spoke _properly_ and not _vulgarly_, call'd the
spiritual Sense of the Law and the Prophets, the[399] _New Testament_,
and asserted that there was or would be such an Agreement between the
_Old_ and _New_ Testament; that is, between the Testament of the
_Letter_, and the Testament of the _Spirit_ of the Scriptures, as that
there would not be[400] one Tittle in the _one_, that would not be
consonantly fulfilled in the _other_; and so far as I already
apprehend this Harmony between these two Testaments, of the _Letter_,
and of the _Spirit_, I must needs say with _Origen_[401] that it's
_pleasant and ravishing to behold and contemplate it_, and hope in a
short time to make the Bishop of St. _David_'s a Partaker of the same
Pleasure. The same right Notion had the Fathers of the _Gospel_ of
_Christ_, which they have of the _New Testament_. _Vulgarly_ speaking,
the Writings of the Evangelists, and of the Apostles, were call'd the
_Gospel_ of _Christ_: But properly speaking, Christ's _spiritual
Accomplishment_ of the Law was the _Gospel_: Hence is the Meaning of
their frequent saying, "That under the Law the Gospel was vail'd, and
under the Gospel the Law was reveal'd." Hence they said, "That those
Men had nothing of the _Gospel_, who understood not the Spirit of the
_Law_." Hence they said, "The Gospel was hid to those, who had the
Veil of the _Letter_ upon their Hearts in reading of the Old
Testament." Hence it was too, that they said, "That the Gospel was but
_in Part_, and that too in a very _little Part_, reveal'd at
_Christ_'s first Coming; the full Revelation of it being reserv'd for
his second and more glorious Advent, which the World is now in great
Want of, for the curing of their spiritual _Blindness_, _Deafness_,
and _Lameness_; that is, for the Correction of their gross Ignorance
and Errors in Religion; for the Healing of their Divisions; for the
Manifestation of Truth; for the Conversion of _Jews_ and _Gentiles_;
and for the Reformation of the Manners of Mankind.

Dear _Jesu_, to what a sad Purpose have our Hired Priesthood and
_Ministers_ of the _Letter_, of all Denominations, hitherto studied and
preach'd, even till they have lost the true, primitive, and Apostolical
Notion of "the _Gospel_; "of _Revelation_; and "of the _New Testament_!

The Bishop of _London_ has of late publish'd two _Pastoral Letters_ on
the Certainty, Necessity, and Use of Revelation, against _Infidels_,
particularly against my self, whom he (God help his Understanding!)
takes for a Favourer of Infidelity: And to do the _Man_ Justice, I
believe he's sincere, and laments at his Heart the Unbelief of this
Age: But however, when the true _Gospel_, otherwise call'd the
_Revelation_ of the Law and the Prophets, or the _New Testament_
(which will be fatal to the Ministry of the Letter, and an hired
Priesthood) shall be republished, restored, and repreach'd, I dare
say, without Censoriousness, or pretending to a prophetick Spirit,
that He, of all the Inhabitants of _London_ and _Westminster_, will be
the greatest Enemy to it; and for no other Reason than his own,
"because of his Unwillingness to part with his worldly Interests,
which will induce him to embrace any Arguments against it, and to
cherish any Doubts and Scruples concerning it."

Whether the Bishop of St. _David_'s intends to proceed in this
Controversy against me, as he has begun, I know not. He promised us
his _Second Volume_ last Winter, but has adjourn'd the Publication of
it to the next, and I am apt to think he'll defer it to _latter
Lammas_: For being, I suppose, sensible, that his _First Volume_ is
built on the false Bottom of my supposed Infidelity, he'll hardly
trouble the World with another of that kind. But however, I'll not
release him out of the Controversy. I shall insist upon his letting
me know his Opinion on my _Rabbi_'s Objection against _Jesus_'s
Messiahship, herein contain'd, which if he'll favour me with, I'll
forgive him all the Virulence, and pass by all the Impertinence (to
say no worse) of his _Vindication_: Otherwise I shall be tempted to do
an unpleasant Work to myself, as well as an ungrateful one to him;
that is, further to expostulate with him for his false Accusations,
Misrepresentations, and other ill Usage of me.

When I review my _Discourses_ on _Miracles_, and consider not only
their visible Tendency to the Proof of _Jesus_'s Messiahship, but my
solemn Declarations of the Belief of Christianity; I wonder that such
a Number of Writers against me should all of them (excepting Mr.
_Laurence_[402] whom I here thank and praise for his Ingenuity) take
me for an Infidel. I don't indeed much wonder, that the inferior Tribe
of _Levi_ (such is their egregious Ignorance!) should take me for one;
but that such presumed great _Scholars_, as are the Bishops of
_London_ and St. _David_'s, should so mistake me, is astonishing. And
I am not as yet fully satisfied, whether it be their _Ignorance_ or
their _Malice_, thus to accuse me of Infidelity: If it was really
_Ignorance_ in them, they'll soon be convinced of their Error; and
then, like good Christians, they'll make me Satisfaction for the
Injuries done me. But if it was _Malice_, and in Revenge on me for
writing so much against an _Hired-Priesthood_, then they'll go on, and
_die hard_, without any Remorse for the Troubles, Sufferings and
Expences they have put me to.

As I am really a Christian, and shall, by God's Help, demonstrate the
Messiahship of _Jesus_, to which my _Discourses_ on his _Miracles_
were subservient; so I will make bold to tell the _Bishops_ concern'd,
that I am as certainly persecuted, as ever any Christian was since the
Days of the Apostles: And they will do well to consider, whether they
have not everlastingly disgraced themselves, and done some Dishonour
to the best Civil Administration, that ever Nation was bless'd with,
by engaging them in the Persecution of the most sincere Advocate for
the Truth of Christianity, that ever set Pen to Paper.

I am so far from being an Infidel, that, notwithstanding my
_Discourses_ on _Miracles_, I am an implicit Believer, and most devout
Admirer of Doctrines, Historical Facts, and Traditions of the
primitive Church, adhering to many Notions of the Fathers, besides
their allegorical Scheme (as will be seen in the Sequel of this
Controversy) which the _Divines_ of these last Ages have rejected, as
so many Weaknesses and Mistakes in them. And when I come more fully to
open my Mind, it will be well if the _Clergy_ don't change their
_Note_ about me; and instead of accusing me of Infidelity, ridicule me
for too much Credulity, and even Superstition; or I would not espouse
_such_ and _such_ Doctrines and Traditions, which all learned and
Protestant _Criticks_ have discarded. Some of these old Notions I'll
keep to myself, for fear of being over-much laught at by the _Clergy_
for them, but others upon Occasion I will divulge; and don't care if I
tell my _Readers_ here one of them, thus:

"The Fathers intimate that _Ministers_ of the _Letter_ are Worshippers
of the Apocalyptical _Beast_, or _Anti-Christ_; and that _that Beast_
of a God, old _Baal_, was a Type of _Anti Christ_." This their Opinion
I found hard to digest; but if there be any Truth in it, it can't be
unlawful to jest a little with his Priests, or to ridicule their
nonsensical, foolish and absurd Doctrines, founded on the _Letter_.

But let my Theological Notions and Speculations be of what kind
soever; what Harm can my Arguings for them do to the Community? None
at all. If they are not of God, they will come to nought sooner and
better than by a Persecution of me for them. But if they are of God,
they will stand and prevail against all Opposition of the _Clergy_,
who will lose their Reputation, if they take any other Measures, than
what Reason and Religion do allow of, to suppress them.

My earnest Request then to the _Clergy_ is, that under the Debate I am
like to have with them, they would be pleased to keep their Temper; or
wise and impartial By-standers will say, that it's more for their
Interests than the Truth, that they are zealous and furious.

I am not afraid of another Prosecution at Law, because I already have,
or soon shall cut off all Pretences to it, by clearing myself of all
Suspicions of Infidelity; but, for all that, I am more apprehensive of
the Rage and Indignation of the _Clergy_, than if I had been a
downright _Atheist_. No _Atheist_ or _Deist_ is or can be of that
dangerous Consequence to the modern Priesthood, as the Christian
Allegorist. Against the Growth of Deism and Atheism, the _Clergy_ may
be able for some time to maintain their Ground; but upon the Revival
of the _Ministry_ of the _Spirit_ of the Law and the Prophets, they
can't stand long. And if I should demonstrate, what I have undertaken,
the Certainty of the allegorical Scheme, and _Jesus_'s Messiahship
upon it; tho' _Jews_ and _Infidels_ then will be ready to rejoice, yet
Ministers of the Letter, notwithstanding their pretended Love to, and
Faith in _Jesus_, will be enraged; and it will be well, if I don't
feel the Weight of their Displeasure and Resentment. If that foolish
old _Dotard_, Mr. _Ayscough_[403] the _Rector_ of St. _Olave_'s,
_Southwark_, could find in his Heart to instigate the Mob to _drag me
through the Streets, and throw me into some Repository of Filth and
Nastiness_, what may I not dread from young hot-headed _Priests_, upon
the Performance of what is here undertaken? But I hope our pious and
good _Bishops_, notwithstanding the Danger of their _Thousands_ a
Year, will be my Safeguard.

After all, it is a sad and melancholick Consideration, that the
Understandings of Mankind, especially of the Wise, Thinking and
Philosophical Part of them, should be enslaved to the Interests of
Ecclesiastical _Clodpates_, who for the sake of _Mammon_ more than
_Truth_, are furious and turbulent; otherwise any Opinions in Religion
might be profess'd, consistently with the Peace of the Publick; and
any Speculations publish'd without Animosities and Molestations.

What Course can be taken with the _Clergy_, to persuade them to
Patience and Forbearance, whilst I prove them to be the most stupid
Sect of Philosophers, who have amongst them the fewest Rudiments of
true Philosophy, and even of the Gospel, of any Sect the World ever
knew? It's said, there is nothing so absurd, which some of the old
Philosophers have not held; but there is nothing, for Absurdity, equal
to this Belief, that the _Bible_, for its literal Story, is the Word
of God, and given by Inspiration of him.

The _Bishop_ of _St. David_'s complains[404] of my unmannerly
Behaviour towards my Ecclesiastical Superiors; and I must confess, I
am no body at that low and _Right Reverend_ Bow, that he is fam'd for,
or I might have put in for a _Bishoprick_ before now: But if our
_Bishops_ and _Clergy_ will be pleased to keep their Temper, till I
get to the End of this Controversy, I'll pass such Compliments upon
them for their good Humour and Learning too, if they deserve it, as
they hardly ever met with.

To conclude, I have written as plainly and intelligibly as I can, in
this _Part_ of my _Defence_. If any one shall complain of Obscurity
any where, I will, upon Intimation, endeavour to illustrate it. I
have, in some Places, asserted Things upon the Authority of the
Fathers, without producing their Testimonies, in Proof of them; but if
any question, whether their Testimonies can be here or there urg'd,
they shall, upon a proper Occasion, have Satisfaction given them. The
Reason why I have sometimes omitted the Testimonies of the Fathers,
where they might be look'd for, is because I study Brevity, intending
never to publish at once a larger _Volume_ than this present. And no
body need question my Testimonies to be ready at Hand; because I have
neither the Courage nor Confidence (like many others) to vent any new
Doctrines out of my own Head. My Talent is only to illustrate what the
Fathers have asserted; and tho' some would account me a Falsifier and
Misrepresenter of primitive Authorities, my honest Endeavours shall be
to turn the Hearts of our _Clergy_, who are like Children in
Understanding, to the Fathers. I shall end all _seriously_,
_gravely_, _calmly_ and _sedately_, with the same Words that I began
my _First Discourse_ on _Miracles_ with, saying, "If ever there was a
useful Controversy started or revived in this Age of the Church, it is
this about the Messiahship of the Holy _Jesus_, which the _Discourse
of the Grounds_, &c. has of late rais'd. I believe this Controversy
will end in the absolute Demonstration of _Jesus_'s Messiahship from
Prophecy, which is the only Way to prove him to be the Messiah, that
great Prophet expected by the _Jews_, and promised under the old
Testament." And whether Bishop _Smalbroke_ or Mr. _Stackhouse_ will
believe me, or not, I do now solemnly declare, that what I have
written in my _Discourses_, or shall write in these _Defences_, is
with a View to, what I am persuaded I shall effect, the absolute
Demonstration of the Messiahship of the Holy _Jesus_, to whom be Glory
for ever and ever. _Amen._



[357] _Vindication in Preface, p._ ix. x.

[358] _Fair State of the Controversy_, p. 293, 294.

[359] _In his Preface_, p. xi.

[360] _Vindication_, p. 2.

[361] _Defence of Christianity_, p. 295, 310.

[362] _Some Observations of a Layman._ 2. Tom _of_ Bedlam'_s Letter to
his Cousin_ T. Woolston. 3. _For God or the Devil: Or, Just Chastisement
no Persecution._ 4. _A Defence of the Scripture-History, &c._

[363] _In his_ First Pastoral Letter, p. 5.

[364] _In his Preface_, p. ix.

[365] _In his Dedication to the Queen._

[366] Siquidem Symbola quædam erant, quæ tunc gerebantur, eorum quæ
Jesu virtute semper perficiuntur. _In Matt._ C. xv.

[367] Peragunt Formam futuri Gesta præsentia. _In Matt._ C. xxi.

[368] Quæ a Jesu facta alicujus significantia erant. _In Serm._ lxxvii.

[369] Ipse Salvator noster apertissimè ostendit, quòd ejus miracula
aliquid significent, dum ea faciendo aliquid agit, quod ratione carere
videatur. _In Hom. quarta post Dominic. quartam._

[370] _In his Preface_, p. xi.

[371] _Ibid._ p. x.

[372] Similitudo erat & Typus futurorum unumquodque, quod Jesus
faciebat in Corpore. _In Isai._ C. vi.

[373] Adventus Christi unus quidem in Humilitate completus est, alius
verò speratur in Gloria: Et hic primus Adventus in Carne, mystico
quodam Sermone, in Scripturis sanctis umbra ejus appellatur. _In Jesu
Nave_, C. viii.

[374] Pertingit ad usque secundum & diviniorem Christi Adventum
Johannis Testimonium. _Origen. in Lucam. Tom._ V.

[375] Appropinquat enim Regnum Cœlorum, ut Scribæ qui in simplici
Littera acquiescunt, resipiscentes ab ejusmodi Intellectu, erudiantur
spirituali Doctrina, quæ est per Jesum Christum, vivum Verbum, quæ
vocatur Regnum Cœlorum. _In Matt._ C. xiii.

[376] _P._ 123, 124.

[377] _P._ 124.

[378] _P._ 108.

[379] _P._ 93.

[380] _P._ 94.

[381] Ibid.

[382] Nam idem Moses quamvis Veteris Testamenti verba in literis
condidisset, tamen separatim quædam ex occultis Legis secretiora
mysteria septuaginta senioribus, qui Doctores deinceps manerent,
intimaverat. _In Psal._ ii. Sect. 2.

[383] _P._ 96.

[384] _Origenes_ decem scripsit Stromateas, omnia nostræ religionis
dogmata de _Platone_, _Aristotele_, _Numenio_, _Cornutoque_
confirmans. _In Epist. ad Magnum._

[385] _Defence of Christianity_, p. 345.

[386] _P._ 347, 353, 358.

[387] _P._ 341.

[388] _P._ 344.

[389] Perspicuum est Mosem mentis acie Legis Veritatem Historiarumque
apud Scripturam Allegorias juxta Anagogen vidisse. _In Johan. Tom._ VI.

[390] Asseverant Judæi, deum Mosi primùm Legem scriptam tradidisse,
arque hanc postea in longo illo Dierum 40 spatio, quo in monte apud se
agebat Moses, exposuisse, ita ut singulorum præceptorum genuinum
Sensum, Causas, & Fines tum Rationem quoque eadem adimplendi illi
accurate declararet. _Apud Wagens. Tel. ignea._ p. 580.

[391] See _Basnage_'s History of the _Jews_, p. 189.

[392] Doctioribus inter Judæos notissimum est, quod Moses qui primus
fuit Salvator Israelis, etiam in omni Vita & Operibus suis fuerit
Typus & Figura ultimi Redemptoris. _Christiani Meyer_ de Gen. Christi,
_p._ 145.

[393] Judæi veteres expectabant similem Ægyptiacæ Liberationem, ut
scilicet Pharoah & omnis ejus Exercitus qui per 430 Annos Populum Dei
captivum tenuit, in mari rubro submersus est; sic etiam Romani qui
eodem Annorum numero Judæos possessuri, ultione Domini deleantur. _In
Joelis_ C. iii.

[394] 1 Cor. _C._ x, 1, 2, 6.

[395] Eloquar Propositiones sive Ænigmata ab Initio, id est, ex quo
Populi Congregatio adducta est ex Ægypto. _In Ps._ lxxvii. _Sect._ 4.

[396] See _Basnage_'s History of the _Jews_, p. 189.

[397] _P._ 108.

[398] 2 _Cor._ iii. 6.

[399] Et non Litera Legis, sed ejus Spiritus, hoc est, Novitas
Testamenti. _Tertull. contra Marcion_, Lib. V. C. 11.

[400] Veteris Testamenti ad Novum tanta Congruentia, ut Apex nullus,
qui non consonet, relinquetur. _Sti. Augustini de Utilit. Credendi_,
Sect. 9.

[401] Jucundum est istum Consensum intelligere circa convenientia
duorum Testamentorum. _In Matt. Tract._ 6.

[402] _In his Expostulatory Letter to Mr._ Woolston.

[403] _In his_ Lent Sermon _at St._ Saviour_'s_, Anno 1729.

[404] _In his Preface_, p. xvii.

    _BOOKS written by Mr._ WOOLSTON, _and sold by him next Door to
    the_ Star _in_ Aldermanbury, _and by the Booksellers of_ London
    _and_ Westminster.

I. The old Apology reviv'd, _&c._

II. Dissertatio de Pontii Pilati Epistola ad Tiberium circa Res Jesu
Christi gestas.

III. Origenis Adamantii Epistolæ duæ circa Fidem vere orthodoxam &
Scripturarum Interpretationem.

IV. The exact Fitness of the Time of Christ's Advent, demonstrated by
Reason, against the Objections of the old Gentiles, and modern

V. Four Free-Gifts to the _Clergy_, or Challenges to a Dispute on this
Question, whether the Hireling Priests of this Age, who are all
Ministers of the Letter, be not Worshippers of the Apocalyptical
Beast, and Ministers of Anti-Christ.

VI. An Answer to the said Four Free-Gifts.

VII. Two Letters to Dr. _Bennet_, on this Question, Whether the People
call'd _Quakers_, do not the nearest of any other Sect in Religion,
resemble the primitive Christians in Principle and Practice.

VIII. An Answer to the said two Letters.

IX. The Moderator between an Infidel and an Apostate: Or, the
Controversy between the _Grounds_ and his ecclesiastical Opponents,
set in a clear Light, _&c._

X. Two Supplements to the Moderator, _&c._

XI. A Defence of the Miracle of the _Thundering Legion_, against a
Dissertation of _Walter Moyle_ Esq.

XII. Six Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour.

XIII. Two Defences of the said Discourses.

Transcriber's Notes:

Inconsistent hyphenation has been left as in the original text.

Inconsistent use of contractions are left as in the original text.

The long s has been replaced with the modern s in order to improve

In some cases the footnotes refer to the text prior to the footnote
anchor and in some cases they refer to the text after. All anchors
have been attached to the word before the anchor.

Bishop Smalbroke and Smallbroke are used interchangeably throughout as
are Lichfield and Litchfield, left as in the original text.

Inconsistent italicising appears throughout, left as in the original

There are several words that are consistently misspelled and also
correctly spelled in the text (i.e. litteral, sensless, antient,
ideot), these were left as in the original text.

There are several places where closing quotes are not present, left as
in the original text.

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