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النشر الإلكتروني

CHAP. III.

THAT THESE THREE MIRACLES ARE WELL CIR-
CUMSTANCED.

I AM now to show, that the histories of these three miracles are well circumstanced, and have in them the marks and tokens of credibility. But I have here very little to say. Scarce any thing can be added to the perspicuity of the evangelists' several relations.

I shall however make two or three general observations, and then go over the particulars of the relation of each miracle.

SECTION I.

THE general observations I would mention are these: 1. There are in these relations proper circumstances of time and place, and the names and characters of persons. Of the miracle on Jairus's daughter, the time and place are sufficiently specified by St. Mark and St. Luke. It was soon after his crossing the sea of Galilee after Jesus had cured the men possessed with devils in the country of the Gergesenes," And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him, and he was nigh unto the sea. And behold there cometh one of the rulers," &c. Mark v. 21. "And it came to pass that when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him. And behold there came a man," &c. Luke viii. 40.

The character of the person on whom the miracle was performed is particularly described. She is the daughter of a ruler of a synagogue, whose name was Jairus. Matthew says, ch. ix. 18. "There came a certain ruler." Mark, Behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name." Luke," Behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was the ruler of the synagogue." And by Mark she is said to have been of the " age of twelve years.

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Of the next miracle, related by Luke only, it is said to have been done the day after the cure of the Centurion's servant at Capernaum. The place is the city of Nain, the person is the only son of a widow there. Luke vii. 11, 12. "And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow."

Of the last miracle related by St. John only, the person on whom it is said to have been done is Lazarus, of the town of Bethany, nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off, brother of Mary and Martha: friend of Jesus and his disciples; and on occasion of the death of Lazarus, Jesus came up from beyond Jordan to Bethany, and then retired into a city called Ephraim. Moreover it appears to have been done not long before our Saviour's death.

This specifying of time, place, and names or characters of persons, is an argument of a real story and not a fiction: for, if it had been a fiction, it might have been easily discovered.

2. These miracles were done at the usual place of the residence of those persons on whom they were performed; a much greater security, in this case, against cheat and imposture, than if they had been done on travellers, who were strangers in the places where such things are acted on them.

3. They were all very public miracles, as is apparent from the relation. It may be difficult to say, where there was the greatest concourse; but I am inclined to think, that the company at Lazarus's resurrection was the fewest; and also, that the company which attended Jesus to the house of Jairus was the greatest concourse of the three. There were not indeed so many present at speaking the word, when his daughter was restored to life. Nor could the young woman's corpse be brought out of her chamber, and placed before the house, in order to raise her there before all the people, without ostentation: which is entirely unbecoming the character of Jesus; but all the numerous company then attending our Lord had full evidence of her death, and of her restoration to life, as has been shown in part already, and may further appear presently.

SECTION II.

WE will now go over the particulars of the relation of each miracle, from which it will appear that these persons had been dead, and were raised to life by Jesus.

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Jairus, ruler of a synagogue, came to Jesus and " shipped him;" or as Mark, and Luke," fell down at his feet, saying, My daughter is even now dead," or, " at the point of death, but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live."

It is not reasonable to suppose, that a ruler of a synagogue would come to Jesus, and ask him to heal his daugh

ter in so earnest a manner, and with such signs of high esteem and respect, and that before great numbers of people, unless his daughter's case was desperate, and past all hopes of remedy in an ordinary way. It was dishonourable to pay any respect to Jesus. There were few or none of Jairus's character who publicly owned him for the Christ. His application to him must be very offensive to his brethren; and therefore we may be assured, he had no prospect of help for his daughter any other way but this.

Moreover, the manner in which he comes to Jesus, shows an uncommon concern and earnestness. While Jesus is speaking in public, he comes and falls down at his feet, and besought him greatly-I pray thee come and lay thy hands on her."

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The expressions he uses concerning his daughter, represent her to be in the utmost extremity; so that she must be near expiring when he left her.

Upon his earnest entreaty," Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples," Matthew: and much "people followed him and thronged him," Mark: and from St. Luke it appears, that "a multitude thronged and pressed him." From all the three evangelists, who relate this matter, it is plain, that when Jairus came to Jesus, much people was round about him. The request of Jairus, so noted a person, to come and heal his daughter, would also doubtless increase the number of people that were before gathered together about him. It was impossible for Jesus, surrounded by so great a crowd, to go in great haste to Jairus's house.

Moreover all these three evangelists are agreed, that as Jesus was going along, there came behind him a woman who had an infirmity of twelve years' standing, who touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. St. Matthew assures us also, that Jesus had then some discourse with this woman: St. Mark and St. Luke, that Jesus perceiving virtue to have gone out of him, stood still, looked round him, asked who touched him. The disciples then express their wonder that he should ask such a question. The woman tells her case at length before him and all the people; and Jesus bids her go away in peace. This affair took up considerable time; and if Jairus's daughter lay dying when he left her, she may be supposed to be worse by this time, if not quite dead.

And accordingly, we are assured by Mark and Luke, "that while he yet spake" with this woman, there came one or more persons from Jairus's house, saying, " Thy daugh

ter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further?" This person came from Jairus's house, and very probably had been despatched away by some of those who attended on the young woman. Would any of his servants or friends come with such a melancholy story to Jairus, that his daughter had died while he was abroad, if they had not known for certain that she was dead?

By all these things we know, that Jairus's daughter died of sickness that made gradual advances; not of a sudden fit, or fright, or any thing like it. She lay dying when Jairus left the house. Some persons come to him, and tell him that she was dead, and dissuade him from troubling the Master any further: whereas, if she had only had something like a fit, it had been most unreasonable to dissuade Jairus from troubling Jesus any further.

Let us go on: when Jesus came into the ruler's house, he saw "the minstrels and the people making a noise," Matthew: "He seeth the tumult and them that wept greatly," Mark: "And all wept and bewailed her," Luke. Here were friends, and public hired musicians, weeping and bewailing the young woman. They knew therefore that she was dead; she had been dead some time, or else these minstrels had not begun their lamentations.

Jesus says; "Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." Whereupon, say all the three evangelists, "They laughed him to scorn." So sure were these persons that she was dead and not in a sleep; as they understood Jesus to say:

Jesus puts forth out of the house these public mourners, and other strangers. When the disciples and all the people saw these minstrels come out, they had further evidence hereby of the death of the young woman.

Jesus having removed all strangers, that the house might be quiet, enters into the room where the young woman lay, taking with him the parents," the father and mother of the maiden, and three of his own disciples;" a sufficient number of persons to attest any fact; yet not so many, but that they might all have a clear and distinct view of the thing: the properest persons of any to be admitted; the father and the mother, as best knowing the young woman's case, the most unwilling of any to admit a deceit, and to take another person, a stranger who had not died, instead of their own daughter; three of his own disciples, who were to be witnesses of his works, and who could not have been persuaded to undertake the difficult work of preaching the gospel after their

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Master's removal without good proof of his divine mission; who might also assure the other disciples of this thing from their own sight.

These five persons Jesus took along with him; and now the three disciples saw the dead corpse of the young woman, whom her parents and friends knew to be dead before.

And he took her by the hand, and said, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and walked." Upon Jesus's taking hold of her hand, and bidding her arise, she immediately arose. It was therefore evidently the effect of that power that accompanied his word. She also walked, so that life and strength were at once conveyed. He also "commanded to give her meat." And then all who ministered food to her, and saw her eat, were witnesses of her perfect recovery.

They who were present were convinced it was a miracle. "Her parents were astonished," says St. Mark: "And they were astonished with a great astonishment," says St. Luke, meaning, it is likely, the three disciples as well as the parents. Lastly, St. Matthew says, "The fame hereof went abroad into all that land." So that whether the parents, and the three disciples present, were silent, according to Christ's direction, or not, the thing was known; many were persuaded of the miracle, and spoke of it. And indeed, the circumstances of her death were so public, that all who saw her alive again, though they were not in the room at the time she was raised, must know the miracle.

The three disciples present at this transaction were afterwards the most forward and courageous of any in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, in the midst of dangers; whereas they must have been the most backward of all men in giving him this character, if they had perceived this affair to be any thing but a real miracle.

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The next story is that of the widow of Nain's son. went into a city called Nain, and many of his disciples went with him," Luke vii. 11; that is, of his followers, beside the twelve, and much other people. "Now when he came nigh unto the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out." This meeting of the corpse must have been casual, without any concerted design between Jesus and any people of Nain. For our Lord's life, during the course of his ministry, was very public. This event happened in a very noted part of it. He had but the day before cured the Centurion's servant at Capernaum. At this instant there were many of his disciples and other people

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