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who were known to be men of no education, all on a sudden knew the arbitrary signs, by which different nations had agreed to express their thoughts. Terms, which had no natural connection with their ideas, were all on a sudden arranged in their minds. Those things, which other men can only acquire by disgusttul labor, those particularly which belong to the most difficult branches of knowledge, they understood without making the least attempt to learn them. They even offered to communicate those gifts to them, who believed their doctrine, and thereby prevented the suspicions, that might have been formed of them, of having affected ignorance all their lives, in order to astonish all the world at last with a display of literature, and by that to cover the black design of imposing on the church.

2. But perhaps these miracles may not be the more respectable on account of their superiority to human power. Perhaps, if they be not human, they may be develish? No, my brethren, a little attention to their second character will convince you that they are divine. Their end was to incline men, not to renounce natural and revealed religion, but to respect and to follow both: not to render an attentive examination unnecessary, but to allure men to it.

It is impossible that God should divide an intelligent soul between evidence and evidence ; between the evidence of falshood in an absurd

proposition, and the evidence of truth that results from a miracle wrought in favor of that proposition. I have evident proofs in favor of this proposition. The whole is greater than a part. Were God to work a miracle in favor of the opposite proposition, The whole is less than a part; he would divide my mind between evidence and evidence, between the evidence of my proposition, and the evidence



that resulted from the miracle wrought in favor of the opposite proposition : he would require me to believe a truth, that could not be established without the renouncing of another truth.

In like manner, were God to work a miracle to authorize a doctrine, opposite to any one of those, which are demonstrated by natural or revealed religion; God would be contrary to himself: he would establish that by natural and revealed religion, which he would destroy by a miracle, and he would establish by a miracle, what he would destroy by natural and revealed religion.

The end of the prodigy of the preaching of St. Peter, the end of all the miracles of the apostles, was to render men attentive to natural and revealed religion. When they addressed themselves to Pagans, you know, they exhorted them to avail themselves of the light of nature in order to understand their need of revelation: and in this chapter the apostle exhorts the Jews to compare the miracle, that was just now wrought, with their own prophecies, that from both there might arise proof of the divine mission of that Messiah, whom he preached to them.

3. The prodigy, that accompanied the preaching of St. Peter, had the third character of a true miracle. It was wrought in the presence of those, who had the greatest interest in knowing the truth of it. Without this, how could this miracle have inclined them to embrace the religion in favor of which it was wrought ? On this article there hath been, and there will be, an eternal dispute between us and the members of that communion, with which it is far more desirable for us to have an unity of faith than an open war.

It is a maxim which the church of Rome hath constituted an article of

faith; that the pretence of an heretic suspends a miracle. How unjust is this maxim !

We dispute with you the essential characters of the true church. You pretend that one indelible character, is the power of working miracles : and, yon add, this power resides with you in all its glory. We require you to produce evidence. We promise to be open to conviction. We engage to allow the argument, which you derive from the power of working miracles, all the weight that religion will suffer us to give it. But you keep out of sight. You chuse for your theatres, cloisters, and monasteries, and your own partisans and disciples are your only spectators.

The apostles observed a different conduct. Very far from adopting your maxim; that the presence of a heretic suspends a miracle, they affirmed the direct contrary. St. Paul expressly saith, Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not, i Cor. xiv. 22. This is a very remarkable passage. Some of the primitive christians made an indiscreet parade of their miraculous gifts in religious assemblies. St. Paul reproves their vanity : but at the same time tells the Corinthians, that in some cases they might produce those gifts in their assemblies, they might exercise them when unbelievers were present ; that is, when persons were in their assemblies, who were not convinced of the truth of the gospel.

Read the history of the apostles. Where did Philip the evangelist heal a great number of demoniacs? Was this miracle performed in the cell of a monastery? In the presence of partial and interested persons ? No: It was in Samaria ; in the presence of that celebrated magician, who, not being able to deny, or to discredit the miracles of the apostles, offered to purchase the power of working

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them, Acts viji. 7, 9, 18, &c. Where did the holy Spirit descend on Cornelius the centurion, and on all those who were with him? chap. x. dark chamber of a convent? Not in the presence of suspected persons ? Behold! it was in Cesarea, a city full of Jews, a city in which the Roman governors held their courts, and where a considerable garrison of Roman soldiers was always stationed. In what place was the imagination of the populace so striken with the miracles that were wrought by St. Paul in the course of two years, that they carried unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, at the touching of which diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them ? Acts xix. 12. Was it in a nunnery? Was it not in the presence of suspected persons ? Behold! it was at Ephesus, another metropolis, where a great number of Jews resided, and where they had a famous synagogue. And not to wander any further from my principal subject, where did the apostles exercise those gifts which they had received from the Holy Ghost? In a conclave? No. In the presence of suspected persons? Yea: in the presence of Medes, Parthians, and Elamites, before dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Pontus, in Asia, in Phrygia, and in Egypt, in Pamphylia, in Lybia, and in Rome. They exercised their gifts in Jerusalem itself, in the very city where Jesus Christ had been crucified. The prodigy that accompanied the preaching of St. Peter, had all the characters then, of a true, real, genuine miracle.

The miracle being granted, I affirm that the compunction of heart, of which my text speaks, was an effect of that attention, which could not be refused to such an extraordinary event, and of that deference, which could not be withheld from a man, to whose ministry God had set his seal. Such

prodigies might well give dignity and weight to the language of those, who wrought them, and

prepare the minds of spectators to attend to the evidence of their argumentation. Modern preachers, sometimes borrow the innocent artifices of eloquence to engage you to hear those truths, which you ought to hear for their own sakes. They endeavor sometimes to obtain, by a choice of words, a tour of thought, an harmonious cadence, that attention, which you would often withhold from their subjects, were they content with proposing them in a manner simple and unadorned. But how great were the advantages of the first heralds of the gospel over modern preachers ! The resurrection of a dead bo

a dy; what a fine exordium ! the sudden death of an Ananias, and a Sapphira ; what an alarming conclısion! The expressive eloquence of a familiar supernatural knowledge of the lest known, and the best sounding tongues; how irresistibly striking! Accordingly, three thousand of the hearers of St. Peter, yielded to the power of his speech. They instantly, and entirely surrendered themselves to men, who addressed them in a manner so extraordinary, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, men, and brethren what shall we do?

III. We remark, in the discourse of the apostle, an invincible power of reasoning, and, in the souls of his hearers, that conviction which carries along with it the consent of the will. Of all methods of reasoning with an adversary, none is more close and conclusive than that which is taken from his own principles. It hath this advantage above others, the opponent is obliged according to strict

, rules of reasoning, to admit the argument, although it be sophistical and false. For by what rule can

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