Robert G. Ingram
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The triumph of Christ over Julian
Prodigies, miracles and providence
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This chapter is about God’s providential management of his creation. The chapter examines the origins of Warburton’s Julian (1751). Warburton’s study of the fourth-century failed rebuild the Temple was part of a sustained attempt to demonstrate his orthodox bona fides in the wake of his Divine Legation of Moses. This chapter opens with an examination of the Weekly Miscellany’s attack on Warburton during the late 1730s for having insufficiently criticized Middleton in the Divine Legation of Moses. Afterwards, Warburton’s orthodox episcopal allies advised him publicly to distance himself from Conyers Middleton, which led to the unraveling of their friendship. The chapter turns next to anatomize Julian’s arguments. It concludes by illuminating how Warburton distinguished between miracles (like the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple rebuilding project in 363 AD) and prodigies (like the London and Lisbon earthquakes of the 1750s), while seeing both as tools of God’s providential management of his creation. Warburton contributed to a public discussion of providence for reasons that were also deeply personal. In that discussion, he employed Newtonian natural philosophy to interpret both natural and human history. In Warburton’s hands, it was employed for orthodox ends, but in sometimes deeply idiosyncratic ways.

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