I pass, says Mr. W. p.15. to a second observation. -- 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 raised from the dead; or we must have heard somewhat of their station and conversation in the world afterwards.
If I may speak my mind freely: This, and all that follows under this observation, is mere idle and impertinent harangue. I have so good an opinion of the generality of mankind, as to suppose them wiser than to be capable of being mov'd by it, to admit any doubt of the truth of these histories.
We are not concern'd to know, what became of those persons, whom Jesus cur'd or restor'd to life. A miracle on the body does not mend the dispositions of the mind. Some of those whom our Saviour heal'd were ungrateful. Of the ten lepers who were all cleansed as they were going to shew themselves to the high priest, according to our Lord's direction, there was but one that return'd to give glory to God, Luke xvii.12. Others there were, who published every where the things that God had done for them. Some of these the Evangelists have mention'd. But were they or ecclesiastical writers after them obliged to write the lives of all whom Jesus and his apostles healed?
For the truth of these miracles we have the testimony of the Evangelists, honest and credible men. Their testimony is confirm'd by the event. The gospel of Christ had not had the mighty progresse in the hands of the apostles, which it had, if these things had not been true. What they did, who were the subjects of these works, we do not need to know particularly. But the event, or the great progreffe of the gospel in a short time, renders it highly probable, that many of these persons by modest and humble acknowledgments of the benefits they had received, by satisfying inquisitive persons, and by other means, according to their several Nations, help'd forward the work of the apostles and others engaged in spreading the doctrine of Christ.
Our author, speaking of Lazarus, who is said by Epiphanius, (though without any certainty) to have lived thirty years after he was raised, asks, p.16 How did he spend his time all that while? Was it to the hononr of Jesus, to the service of the church, and propagation of the gospel?
Why very probably; so long as he lived, he spoke, upon all proper occasions, of this miracle wrought on himself, and of the other miracles perform'd by Jesus upon others; and exhorted men, suitably to his station and circumstances, to believe on him as the Messias. But it is most probable, that our Saviour did not give him a special commission, like that of the apostles, to go preach the gospel. I believe our Lord had a greater regard to the decorum of things, or if you please, to the rules of modesty and prudence. There was nothing better, than for Lazarus to stay at home, to be ready to answer enquirers, who might come to Bethanie to know the truth of the fact reported concerning him. Abroad the testimony of others was more worth than his own. And St. John's short account of his resurrection is more valuable than an history of it writ by Lazarus himself would have been.
And of Jairus's daughter, and of the widow of Naim's son, which is astonishing, we read nothing at all, p.17. Not astonishing in the lest. Women are seldom admitted to public posts. The apostles did not allow women to speak in the church. It is no wonder therefore, that Jairus's daughter has been no where mentioned, but on occasion of the. miracle wrought upon her. Should her private conversation afterwards have been recorded? I think it was not necessary. And after all, she may have been eminently useful some way or other, though we have heard no more of her. The memory of many great actions has been entirely lost. We have no authentic accounts of the preaching of many of the apostles of Christ. As for the widow of Naim's son: He may have died soon after, or he may have been a very useful person, or he might not be qualified for public service. We know nothing of there matters, nor was any body obliged to inform us of them.