Jesus's Words

Chapter 10: Paul Disbelieved Continued.—Jerusalem Visit IV. Continued. His Arrival and Reception. Accused by All the Disciples of the Apostles, He Commences an Exculpatory Oath in the Temple. Dragged Out by Them—Rescued by a Roman Commander—Sent in Custody to Rome

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Section 3: Posterior to All His Supposed Miracles, His Silence Proves Them Unreal

Now, then, as to miracles. Had Paul, really and truly, ever received from Jesus, any such preeminent and characteristic appendage and mark of Apostleship,—here, of all others, was an occasion, on which it concerned him to make proof of it. Here was an occasion, on which, with the design, and for the purpose—the palpable, and almost universally and so strenuously opposed design and purpose—of constituting himself the superior of the Apostles, he was presenting himself—though in circumstances of such humiliation—in the character of an equal, with whom they had treated on equal terms. Here—in order to impose silence on all gainsayers—here was the occasion, for his bringing to public view, this most important of all items in the list of his credentials. The Apostles, to whom—without any exception, by Jesus, if the Evangelist(Mark 16:15-18.) is to be believed—this power had, previously to his ascension, been imparted,—these, if any, were the men—not to say the only men—qualified to form a judgment on the question—whether, by any other individual, and, more especially, by the individual before them, namely, by this their self-declared colleague, any such extraordinary power had, on any, and what, occasion, been exercised or possessed. Of all imaginable occasions, this was the one, on which he had most at stake, in the being able to make proof of so matchless an endowment:—of an endowment, which in the character of a proof, in support of all his claims, would, in the very nature of it, have been so perfectly irresistible.

Well, then: this proof of his title—did he use every endeavour, or make any offer, to produce it? No: not so much did he venture upon, as, in any the most general terms, to assert, or, so much as insinuate, the existence of it. According to his own statement, what was the general description of the tokens brought forward by him, for the purpose of obtaining acceptance? Were they signs and wonders? Oh, no! His historiographer, indeed—in that, or any other such indeterminate, and conveniently ambiguous phrase—his historiographer, at some twenty or seven-and-twenty years' distance, might venture(Acts 14:3.) to speak of his exploits—of the effects produced by his exertions: in the like terms, in writing to his Corinthian disciples, he might, even himself, venture, for once, to speak of his own exploits.54 But, before an assembly, so composed, was this boast, loose, and conveniently ambiguous, as it was,—in his eyes, too much to venture. —Behold here the passage: And when he had saluted them, he declared particularlyActs 21:19a—what? what—signs and wonders? No: but simply—what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

Had he hazarded so much as the general expression of signs and wonders—well, and what were these signs and wonders? give us, at any rate, something by way of a sample of them? In any one of them, was there anything supernatural? anything—beyond the success, the extraordinary success—we are to understand, your exertions were attended with? Questions, to some such effect as this, which, in an assembly, so composed, had he ventured upon any such expressions, he could not but have expected to be annoyed with.

The occurrences which, in the course of it, in the character of miracles, he has ventured to present to view, will have been seen in their place and order. Yet,—notwithstanding the mention there respectively and severally made of them—no mention of them does he, in the account given by him of the meeting, venture to put in his leader's mouth. Why? because—forasmuch as, by Paul himself, no such pretence was ventured to be made—the meeting was too important, and too notorious, to render it safe to advance any such matter of fact; the face being false; or, that any such pretensions were really made.

But, hereupon come two questions.

1. Had any such miracles been really wrought—was it in the nature of things, that, on this occasion, Paul should have omitted all mention of them? even so much as the most distant allusion to them?

2. If any such intimation had really been given, by the historian himself, is it in the nature of the case, that, on this occasion,—he having been one of the witnesses, in whose presence they had been performed,—all mention of such intimation should have been omitted?

Well, then—suppose that to both these questions, let it but be a negative answer or the true one, the consequence is plain—no such miracles were wrought. Yet, in his narrative, has this man—exhibiting himself, at the same time, in the character of a percipient witness, in relation to them—ventured to assert the existence, one after another, of the whole list of these particularized miracles, not to speak of the cluster of unparticularized ones.


52 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.2nd Corinthians 12:12 Not that, by the words assigns and wonders, when used by Paul, anything more was meant, than what, but a few years after, was, according to him, doing, or about to be done, by Antichrist. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.2nd Thessalonians 2:9 Lying is, indeed, the adjunct prefixed, in this instance; but, lying or not lying, if Paul be believed, they failed not to produce the effect intended by them. Signs and wonders being such equivocal thing, no great wonder if—writing at Corinth to nobody knows what disciples of his at Rome, A.D. 58, —he could venture, if this was venturing, to speak of what he had been doing in Jerusalem and Illyricum, in the same terms. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.Romans 15:18-19

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