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that God may permit miraculous and prophetic powers to be exercised even in support of a false religion. We are not indeed to imagine that God himself will work miracles in order to deceive his people, and lead them astray; nor are we to imagine that he will suffer Satan to work them in such an unlimited way as to be a counterbalance to the miracles by which God has confirmed his own religion : but he will, for reasons which we shall presently consider, permit some to be wrought, and some prophecies to come to pass, notwithstanding they are designed to uphold an imposture.

The magicians of Pharaoh, we must confess, wrought real miracles. When they changed their rods into serpents, it was not a deception, but a reality: and when they inflicted plagues upon Egypt after the example of Moses, it was not a deception, but a reality : but at the same time that they thus, in appearance, vied with Moses himself, and with Jehovah, in whose name he came, there was abundant evidence of their inferiority to Moses, and of their being under the control of a superior power: for the magicians could not remove one of the plagues which they themselves had produced; nor could they continue to imitate Moses in all the exercises of his power (from whence they themselves were led to confess their own inferiority to him); nor could they avert from themselves the plagues which Moses inflicted on them in common with the rest of the Egyptians. They were permitted to do so much as should give Pharaoh an occasion for hardening his own heart, but not sufficient to shew that they could at all come in competition with Moses.

In every age there were also false prophets, who endeavoured to draw the people from their allegiance to God; and in the multitude of prophecies that they would utter, it must be naturally supposed that some would be verified in the event. Our blessed Lord has taught us to expect, even under the Christian dispensation, that some efforts of this kind will be made by “ Antichrist, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perisha.” He has moreover told us that these false prophets should “shew such signs and wonders as to deceive, if it were possible, the very electb:" nay more, that in the last day some will appeal to him respecting the prophecies they have uttered, and the miraeles they have wrought in his name, and will plead them in arrest of judgment. We may therefore safely concede what is here supposed, namely, that God m

may

suffer miraculous and prophetic powers to be exercised to a certain degree even in support of idolatry itself.

Now then, in the next place, let us notice the injunction given to the Jews notwithstanding this supposition. God commands them “not to give heed to that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, even though his predictions should be verified, if his object be to turn them from him ; for that he himself suffers these illusions to be practised upon them, in order that their fidelity to him may be tried, and their love to him approved."

It may seem strange that God should suffer such stumbling-blocks to be cast in the way of his people: but it is not for us to say what Jehovah may, or may not, do: we are sure that “he tempteth no man, so as to lead him into sind, and that the “ Judge of all the earth will do nothing but what is right.” But it is a fact, that he thus permitted Job to be tried, in order that he might approve himself a perfect man: and in like manner he tried Abraham, in order that it might appear, whether his regard for God's authority, and his confidence in God's word, were sufficient to induce him to sacrifice his Isaac, the child of promise. It was for similar ends that God permitted his people to be tried for forty years in the wilderness"; and in the same way he has tried his Church in every period of the world. This is the true reason of so many stumbling-blocks being laid in the way of those a 2 Thess. ii. 9, 10. b Matt. xxiv. 24. c Matt. vii. 22. e Gen. xxii. 1,2, 12.

[ Deut. viji. 2.

d Jam. i. 13.

who embrace the Christian faith. Christianity is not revealed in a way to meet with the approbation of proud and carnal men: it is foolishness to the natural man: yea, even Christ himself is a stumbling-block to some, as well as a sanctuary to others; and such a stumbling-block, as to be “a gin and a snare to both the houses of Israel," amongst whom it was foretold,“ many should stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” It is God's express design in the whole constitution of our religion, to discover the secret bent of men's minds; and whilst to the humble he has given abundant evidence for their conviction, he has left to the proud sufficient difficulties to call forth their latent animosity, and to justify in their own apprehensions, their obstinate unbelief". He gave originally to the Jews, as he has also given to us, sufficient evidence to satisfy any candid mind: and this is all that we have any right to expect. It was not necessary that our Lord should give to every man in the Jewish nation the same evidence of his resurrection, as he gave to Thomas : it was reasonable that there should be scope left for every man to exercise his own judgment on the evidences that were placed within his reach; as our Lord said to Thomas, “Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed; but blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

Hence then God enjoined his people not to regard any person who should attempt to draw them to idolatry, even though he should work a miracle before their eyes, or foretell an event that should afterwards come to pass. They had had abundant evidence, that the religion they had embraced was from God: they possessed also in the very nature of that religion an internal evidence of its excellency: and they had received from God such demonstrations of his power and goodness, as ought to unite them to him in the most indissoluble bonds of faith and love. If therefore they should be induced to renounce their allegiance to him, and to transfer it to dumb idols 8 Isai. viii. 14, 15.

h Luke ii. 34, 35.

that had never done any thing for them, nor ever could do any thing, they would betray a manifest want of love to him, and must blame themselves only, if they should ultimately be “ given up to a delusion to believe a lie, and be left to perish” in their iniquity! He would have them therefore upon their guard in relation to this matter, and resolutely to resist every attempt to draw them from him, however specious that attempt might be.

The argument founded on this injunction comes now before us with all the force that can be given to it. A Jew will say, You Christians found your

faith on prophecies and on miracles: and admitting that Jesus did work some miracles, and did foretell some events which afterwards came to pass, God permitted it only to try us, and to prove our fidelity to him. He has cautioned us beforehand not to be led astray from him by any such things as these : he has expressly forbidden us to regard any thing that such a prophet might either say or do: nay more, he commanded that we should take such a prophet before the civil magistrate, and have him put to death: and therefore, however specious your reasonings appear, we dare not listen to them or regard them.

II. Having thus given to the objection all the force that the most hostile Jew can wish, I now come in the second place to offer, what we hope will prove a satisfactory answer to it.

It cannot but have struck the attentive reader, that in this objection there are two things taken for granted; namely, that in calling Jews to Christianity we are calling them from Jehovah; and that our authority for calling them to Christianity is founded on such miracles as an impostor might work, and such prophecies as an impostor might expect to see verified.

But in answer to these two points we declare, first, that we do not call them from Jehovah, but to him;next, that our authority is not founded on such miracles and prophecies as might have issued from an impostor, but such as it was impossible for an impostor to produce ;—and lastly, that, in calling them to Christ, we have the express command of God himself.

i 2 Thess. ü. 11, 12.

First, we do not call our Jewish brethren from Jehovah, but to him.

We worship the very same God whom the Jews worship: and we maintain his unity as strongly as any Jew in the universe can maintain it. As for idols of every kind, we abhor them as much as Moses himself abhorred them. Moreover, we consider the law which was written on the two tables of stone as binding upon us, precisely as much as if it were again promulged by an audible voice from heaven. Instead of calling them from the law, we call them to it: we declare that every man who has transgressed it in any one particular, is deservedly condemned to everlasting miseryk: and it is from a consciousness that this sentence must fall on every human being who has not fled for refuge to the hope set before him in the Gospel, that we are so anxious to call both Jews and Gentiles to a belief of the Gospel. We go further, and say, that no human being can be saved, who has not a perfect obedience to that law as his justifying righteousness. But where shall we find a perfect obedience to that law? where shall we find a man who can say, he has fulfilled it in every jot and tittle ? Alas! we all have transgressed it times without number: we are all therefore condemned by it: and being condemned for our disobedience, we can never be justified by our obedience to it. Would to God, that this matter were understood by the Jews! we should find no difficulty then in leading them to Christ. Did they but know what wrath they have merited, they would be glad to hear of one who has borne it for them: and did they but know how impossible it is for an imperfect obedience to that law to justify them, they would be glad to hear of one who has fulfilled it in all its extent, and brought in an everlasting righteousness for all who believe in him. Yes, my Jewish brethren, know assuredly that the Christian “ does not

k Deut. xxvii. 26. Gal. ii. 10.

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