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the matters of fact related in the Gospel, that that such priesthood and institutions should such an order of men were appointed by commence from the time that such things as Christ, and to continue to the end of the they commemorate were said to be done, world; consequently, if the Gospel was a otherwise they cannot secure after ages from fiction, and invented (as it must be) in the imposture, by detecting it at the time some ages after Christ, then, at that time, when first invented, as hatli been argued bewhen it was first invented, there could be fore. But the Bacchanalia, and other heathen no such order of clergy as derived themselves | feasts, were instituted many ages after from the institution of Christ, which must what was reporteil of these gods was said to give the lie to the Gospel, and demonstrate be done, and, therefore, can be no proof of the whole to be false. And the matters of them. And the priests of Bacchus, Apollo, fact of Christ being pressed to be true, no &c. were not ordained by these supposed otherwise than as there was at that time gods, but were appointed by others in after (whenever the Deists will suppose the ages, only in honour to them. And, there Gospel to be forged) not only public sacra- fore, these orders of priests are no evidence ments of Christ's institution, but an order to the truth of the matters of fact which of clergy, likewise of his appointment, to are reported of their gods. administer them; and it being impossible III. Now, to apply what has been said. there could be any such things before they You may challenge all the Deists in the were invented, it is as impossible that they world to shew any action that is fabulous should be received when invented. And, which has all the four rules or marks before therefore, by what is said above, it was as mentioned. No, it is impossible.
impossible. And to impossible to have imposed upon mankind resume a little what is spoken to before ; the in this matter, by inventing of it in after histories of Exodus and the Gospel never ages, as at the time when those things were could have been received if they had not said to be done.
been true : because the institution of the 3. The matters of fact of Mahomet, or what priesthood of Levi, and of Christ, of the is fabled of the heathen deities, do all want Sabbath, the Passover, of Circumcision, o! some of the aforesaid four rules, whereby Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, &c. are the certainty of matters of fact is demon- there related, as descending all the way strated. First, for Mahomet, he pretended down from those times without interruption. to no miracles, as he tells us in his Alcoran, And it is full as impossible to persuasle mer c. 6, &c. and those which are commonly that they had been circumcised or baptized told of him pass among the Mahometans — had circumcised or baptized their children. themselves, but as legendary fables ; and celebrated passovers, sabbaths, sacraments, &c. as such, are rejected by the wise and learned under the governinent and administration of among them, as the legends of their saints are a certain order of priests, if they had done in the Church of Rome. See Dr Prideaux's none of these things, as to make them believe Life of Mahomet, page 34.
that they had gone through seas upon dry But, in the next place, those which are land, seen the dead raised, &c. And with told of him do all want the two first rules out believing these, it was impossible that before mentioned. For his pretended con- either the Law or the Gospel could have verse with the moon, his mersa, or night been received. journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence And the truth of the matters of fact of to heaven, &c. were not performed before Exodus and the Gospel, being no otherwise any body. We have only his own word for pressed upon men than as they have practiser them, and they are as groundless as the delu- such public institutions, it is appealing to the sions of Fox or Muggleton among ourselves. senses of mankind for the truth of them ; The same is to be said, in the second place, and makes it impossible for any to have of the fables of the heathen gods, of Merenry's invented such stories in after ages, without stealing sheep, Jupiter's turning himself into a palpable detection of the cheat when first a bull, and the like, besides the folly and invented; as impossible as to have imposeul unworthiness of such senseless pretended upon the senses of mankind, at the time miracles. And, moreover, the wise among when such public matters of fact were said the heathen did reckon no otherwise of to be done. these but as fables, which had a mythology or IV. I do not say that every thing which mystical meaning in them, of which several wants these four marks is false; but that of them have given us the rationale or expli- nothing can be false which has them all. cation, And it is plain enough that Ovid I have no manner of doubt that there was meant no other by all his metamorphoses. such a man as Julius Cæsar, that he fought
It is true, the heathen deities had their at Pharsalia, was killed in the senate-house. priests : they had likewise feasts, games, and and many other matters of fact of ancient other public institutions in memory of thein. times, though we keep no public observances But all these want the fourth mark,—namely, | in inemory of them.
But this shews that the matters of fact of apostles should not only undergo all the Moses and of Christ, have come down to us scorn and contempt, but the severest per better guarded than any other matters of fact, secutions, and most cruel deaths, that coul how true soever.
be inflicted in attestation to what themselves And yet our Deists, who would laugh any knew to be a mere deceit and forgery of man out of the world as an irrational brute, their own contriving ! Some have suffered that should offer to deny Cæsar or Alex- for errors which they thought to be truth, ander, Homer or Virgil, their public works but never any for what themselves knew to and actions, do, at the same time, value be lies. And the apostles must have known themselves as the only men of wit and what they taught to be lies, if it was so, sense, of free, generous, and unbiassed judg- because they spoke of those things which ments for ridiculing the histories of Moses they said they had both seen and herard, and Christ, that are infinitely better attested, had looked upon and handled with their and guarded with infallible marks, which hands, &c.* the others want.
Neither can it be said, that they, perhaps, V. Besides that, the importance of the might have proposed some temporal advansubject would oblige all men to inquire more tages to themselves, but missed of them, narrowly into the one than the other; for of and met with sufferings instead of them; what conseqnence is it to me, or to the for, if it had been so, it is more than proworld, whether there was such a man as bable that, when they saw their disappointCæsar, whether he beat, or was beaten at ment, they would have discovereil teir Pharsalia, whether Homer or Virgil wrote conspiracy, especially when they might not such books, and whether what is related in only have saved their lives, but got geat the Iliads or Æneids be true or false ? | rewards for doing of it. That not one of It is not twopence up or down to any man them should ever have been brought to do in the world. And, therefore, it is worth this ! no man's while to inquire into it, either But this is not all; for they tell us, that to oppose or justify the truth of these their Master bid them expect nothing but relations.
sufferings in this world. This is the tenure But our very souls and bodies, both this of that Gospel which they taught, and they life and eternity, are concerned in the truth told the same to all whom they converted': of what is related in the Holy Scriptures ; so that here was no disappointment. and, therefore, men would be more inqui- For all that were converted by them, were sitive to search into the truth of these, than converted upon the certain expectation of of any other matters of fact ; examine and sufferings, and bidden prepare for it. Clirist sift them narrowly, and find out the deceit, commanded his disciples to take up their if any such could be found; for it concerned cross daily, and follow him; and told them, them nearly, and was of the last importance that in the world they should have tribulato them.
tion ; that whoever did not forsake father, How unreasonable, then, is it to reject mother, wife, children, lands, and their very these matters of fact, so sifted, so examined, lives, could not be his disciples; that he who and so attested, as no other inatters of fact sought to save his life in this world should in the world ever were ; and yet to think it lose it in the next. the most highly unreasonable, even to inad- Now, that this despised doctrine of the ness, to deny other matters of fact, which cross should prevail so universally against the have not the thousandth part of their evi- allurements of flesh and blood, and all the dence, and are of no consequence at all to us blandishments of this world ; against the rage whether true or false !
and persecution of all the kings and powers VI. There are several other topics, from of the earth, must shew its original to be whence the truth of the Christian religion divine, and its protector almighty. What is is evinced to all who will judge by reason, it else could conquer witho it arins, persuade and give themselves leave to consider: As without rhetoric, overcome enemies, disarm the improbability that ten or twelve poor tyrants, and subdue empires without opposiilliterate fishermen should form a design of tion ! converting the whole world to believe their VII. We may add to all this, the testidelusions, and the impossibility of their monies of the most bitter enemies and effecting it, without force of arms, learning, persecutors of Christianity, both Jews and oratory, or any one visible thing that could Gentiles, to the truth of the matter of fact recommend them ! And to impose a doc- of Christ, such as Josephus and Tacitus ; of trine quite opposite to the lusts and pleasures which the first flourished about forty years of men, and all worldly advantages or after the death of Christ, and the other about enjoyments ! And this, in an age of so seventy years after ; so that they were capable great learning and sagacity as that wherein of examining into the truth, and wanted not the Gospel wus first preached ! That these
• Acts iv. 20.
1 Jolin i. 1.
prejudice and malice sufficient to have inclined others of the whole earth. Whereas those chein to deny the matter of fact itself of mighty monarchies which oppressed the Jews, Christ ; but their confessing to it, as likewise and which commanded the world in their Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian the turns, and had the greatest human prospect A postate, the Mahometans since, and all other of perpetuity, were to be extinguished, as enemies of Christianity that have arisen in they have been, even that their naines should the world, is an undeniable attestation to be blotted out from under heaven. the truth of the matter of fact.
As, likewise, that as remarkable prophecy VIII. But there is another argument, more of our blessed Saviour, concerning the preserstrong and convincing than even this matter vation and progress of the Christian Church, of fact; more than the certainty of what I when in her swaddling clothes, consisting see with my eyes ; and which the Apostle only of a few poor fishermen : not by the Peter called a more sure word, that is proof, sword, as that of Mahomet, but under all the than what he saw and heard upon the Holy persecution of men and hell, which yet shoulu Mount, when our blessed Saviour was trans- not prevail against her. figured before him and two other of the But though I offer these, as not to be apostles : for having repeated that passage as slighted by the Deists, to which they can a proof of that whereof they were eye-wit- shew nothing equal in all profane history, nesses, and heard the voice from heaven and in which it is impossible any cheat can giving attestation to our Lord Christ, (2 Peter, lie ; yet I put them not upon the same foot i. 16, 17, 18,) he says, verse 19, “ We have as the prophecies before mentioned of the also a more sure word of prophecy,” for the marks and coining of the Messiah, which proof of this Jesus being the Messiah,—that is, have been since the world began. the prophecies which had gone before of him And that general expectation of the whole from the beginning of the world, and all earth, at the time of his coming, insisted upon exactly fulfilled in him.
in the “ Method with the Jews,” sect. 6. is Men may dispute an imposition or delusion greatly to be noticed. pon our outward senses. But how that can But, I say, the foregoing prophecies of our be false, which has been so long, even from Saviour are so strong a proof, as even miracles the beginning of the world, and so often, by would not be sufficient to break their authoall the prophets in several ages, foretold; how rity,- I mean, if it were possible that a true can this be an imposition or a forgery? miracle could be wrought in contradiction to
This is particularly insisted on in the them ; for that would be for God to contra“ Method with the Jews.”* And even the dict himself. Deists must confess, that that book we call But no sign or wonder that could possibly the Old Testament was in being in the hands be solved should shake this evidence. of the Jews long before our Saviour came into It is this that keeps the Jews in their the world. And if they will be at the pains obstinacy; though they cannot deny the to compare the prophecies that are there of matters of fact done by our blessed Saviour the Messiah with the fulfilling of them, as to to be truly miracles, if so done as said. Nor time, place, and all other circumstances, in can they deny that they were so done, because the person, birth, life, death, resurrection, they have all the four marks before menand ascension of our blessed Saviour, they will tioned. Yet they cannot yield! Why? find this proof, what our apostle here calls it, Because they think that the Gospel is in con
a light shining in a dark place, until the tradiction to the Law ; which, if it were, the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your consequence would be unavoidable, that both hearts.” Here is no possibility of deceit or im- could not be true. To solve this, is the posture. Old prophecies, and all so agreeing, business of the “ Method with the Jews.” could not have been contrived to countenance But the contradiction which they suppose, is a new cheat ; and nothing could be a cheat in their comments that they put upon the that could fulfil all these.
Law, especially, they expect a literal fulfilling For this, therefore, I refer the Deists to the of those promises of the restoration of Jeru“ Method with the Jews."
salem, and outward glories of the Church, of I desire them likewise to look there, which there is such frequent mention in the (sect. xi.) and consider the prophecies given books of Moses, the Psalms, and all the so long ago, of which they see the fulfilling prophets. And many Christians do expect at this day with their own eyes, of the state the same, and take those texts as literally as of the Jews for many ages past and at present, the Jews do. We do believe and pray for without a king, or priest, or temple, or sacri- the conversion of the Jews. For this end fice, scattered to the four winds, sifted as with they have been so miraculously preserved, à sieve among all nations ; yet preserved, and according to the prophecies so long before of always to be, a distinct people from all it. And when that time shall come, as they * This Treatise will form a future number of 'he present
are the most honourable and ancient of all viries of publicativlis.
the nations on the earth, so will their church
return to be the mother Christian Church as xxv. 24, which, though sometimes it may she was at first ; and Rome must surrender be used to signify real mircles, yet noi to Jerusalem. Then all nations will flow always, not in these places ; for though every thither; and even Ezekiel's temple may be miracle be a sign and a wonder, yet every literally built there, in the metropolis of the sign or wonder is not a miracle. whole earth ; which Jerusalem must be, when IX. Here it may be proper to consider a the fulness of the Gentiles shall meet with common topic of the Deists, who, when they the conversion of the Jews. For no nation are not able to stand out against the evidence will then contend with the Jews, nor church of fact, that such and such miracles have l eeu with Jerusalem, for supremacy. All nations done, then turn about, and deny such things will be ambitious to draw their original from to be miracles ; at least we can never be sure the Jews, “ whose are the fathers, and from whether any wonderful thing that is shown whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” to us be a true or a false miracle.
Then will be fulfilled that outward gran- And the great argument they go upon is deur and restoration of the Jews and of this, that a miracle being that which exceeds Jerusalem, which they expect pursuant to the power of nature, we cannot know what the prophecies.
exceeds it, unless we knew the utmost extent They pretend not that this is limited to of the power of nature; and no man pretends any particular time of the reign of the to know that, therefore that no man can Messiah. They are sure it will not be at certainly know whether any event be miritthe beginning, for they expect to go through culous ; and consequently, he may be cheitel great conflicts and trials with their Messiah in his judgment betwixt true and false (as the Christian Church has done) before miracles. his final conquest, and that they come to reign To which I answer, that men may be so with him, so that this is no obstruction to cheated, and there are many examples of it. their embracing Christianity. They see But that though we may not always know the same things fulfilled in us which they when we are cheated, yet we can certaiuly expect themselves, and we expect the same tell in many cases when we are not cheatod. things they do.
For though we do not know the utmost I tell this to the Deists, lest they may think extent of the power of nature perhaps in any that the Jews have some stronger arguments one thing, yet it does not follow that we than they know of, that they are not per- know not the nature of any thing in some suaded by the miracles of our blessed Saviour, measure, and that certainly too. For example, and by the fulfilling of all the prophecies in though I do not know the utmost extent of him that were made concerning the Messiah. the power of fire, yet I certainly know that it
As I said before, I would not plead even is the nature of fire to burn ; and that when miracles against these. And if this is suffi- proper fuel is administered to it, it is contrary cient to persuade a Jew, it is much more to the nature of fire not to consume it. so to a Deist, who labours not under these Therefore, if I see three men taken off the objections.
street in their common wearing apparel, ind, Besides, I would not seem to clash with without any preparation, cast into the nidst that, in a sound sense, reasonable caution used of a burning fiery furnace, and that the firme by Christian writers, not to put the issue of was so fierce that it burnt up those men that the truth wholly upon miracles without this threw them in, and yet that those who were addition, when not done in contradiction to thrown in should walk up and down in the the revelations already given in the Holy bottom of the furnace, and I should see a Scriptures.
fourth person with them of glorious appearAnd they do it upon this consideration, ance like the Son of God; and that these that, though it is impossible to suppose that men should come up again out of the furnace God would work a real miracle in contradic- without any harm, or so much as the smell tion to what he has already revealed ; yet of fire upon themselves or their clothes : 1
; men may be imposed upon by false and could not be deceived in thinking that there seeming miracles, and pretended revelations, was a stop put to the nature of fire as to (as there are many examples, especially in these men, and that it had its effect upon the the Church of Rome,) and so may be shaken men whom it burned at the same time. Scriptures as their rule.
and sudden an increase of corn might be We are told, 2 Thess. ii. 9, “ of him whose produced by the concurrence of many causes, coming is after the working of Satan, with as a warm climate, the fertility of the soil, all power, and signs, and lying wonders ;" &c. yet this I can certainly know, that there and Rev. xiii. 14, xvi. 14, and xix. 20, of the is not that natural force in the breath of two devil and false prophets working miracles. or three words spoken to multiply one small But the word, in all these places, is only loaf of bread so fast in the breaking of it, as vouevice, signs, that is, as it is rendered, Matt. I truly und really, not only in appearance and
in the faith if they keep not to the Holy Again, though I cannot tell how wonderful
show to the eye, but to fill the bellies of seve- But I have given them greater latitude ral thousand hungry persons, and that the than this, for I have shewn such marks of the fragments should be much more than the truth of the matters of fact of Moses and of bread was at first.
Christ, as no other matters of fact of those So neither in a word spoken to raise the times, however true, have, but these only ; dead, cure diseases, &c.
and I put it upon them to shew any for: Therefore, though we know not the utmost gery that has all these marks. extent of the power of nature, yet we cer- This is a short issue. Keep them close to tainly know what is contrary to the nature of this. This determines the cause all at once. several such things as we do know.
Let them produce their Apollonius Tyaneus, And therefore, though we may be cheated whose life was put into English by the exeand imposed upon in many seeming miracles crable Charles Blount,* and compared, with and wonders, yet there are some things where- all the wit and malice he was master of, to in we may be certain.
the life and miracles of our blessed Saviour. But farther, the Deists acknowledge a God Let them take aid from all the legends in of an almighty power who made all things. the Church of Rome, those pious cheats, the
Yet they would put it out of his power sorest disgraces of Christianity, and which to make any revelation of his will to man- have bid the fairest of any one contrivance kind; for if we cannot be certain of any to overturn the certainty of the miracles of miracle, how should we know when God sent Christ and his apostles, and whole truth of any thing extraordinary to us?
the Gospel, by putting them all upon the Nay, how should we know the ordinary same foot ; at least, they are so understood by power of nature if we knew not what exceeded the generality of their devotees, though disit? If we know not what is natural, how owned and laughed at by the learned, and do we know there is such a thing as nature ? men of sense among them. --that all is not supernatural, all miracles, and Let them pick and choose the most proso disputable, till we come to downright bable of all the fables of the heathen deities, scepticism, and doubt the certainty of our and see if they can find in any of these the outward senses whether we see, hear, or feel, four marks before mentioned. or all be not a miraculous illusion !
Otherwise let them submit to the irrefraWhich, because I know the Deists are not gable certainty of the Christian religion. inclined to do, therefore I will return to pur- XII. But if, notwithstanding all that is sue my argument upon the conviction of our said, the Deists will still contend that all this outward senses, desiring only this, that they is but priestcraft, the invention of priests would allow the senses of other men to be as for their own profit, &c. then they will give certain as their own, which they cannot us an idea of priests far different from what refuse, since without this they can have no they intend ; for then we must look upon certainty of their own.
these priests not only as the cunningest and X. Therefore, from what has been said, wisest of mankind, but we shall be tempted the cause is summed up shortly in this, that to adore them as Deities, who have such though we cannot see what was done before power as to impose at their pleasure upon our time, yet, by the marks which I have the senses of mankind, to make them believe laid down concerning the certainty of matters that they had practised such public instituof fact done before our time, we may be as tions, enacted them by laws, taught them to much assured of the truth of them as if we their children, &c. when they had never done saw them with our eyes ; because, whatever any of these things, or ever so much as heard matter of fact has all the four marks before of them before ; and then, upon the credit of mentioned, could never have been invented their believing that they had done such things and received but upon the conviction of the as they never did, to make them farther ontward senses of all those who did receive believe, upon the same foundation, whatever it, as before is demonstrated. And therefore they pleased to impose upon them as to this topic which I have chosen does stand former ages : I say, such a power as this upon the conviction even of men's outward must exceed all that is human ; and con
And since I am confined to one sequently make us rank these priests far topic, I have not insisted upon the other, above the condition of mortals. which I have only named.
Nay, this were to make them outdo all XI. And now it lies upon the Deists, if that has ever been related of the infernal they would appear as men of reason, to shew
powers; for though their legerdemain has some matter of fact of former ages which they
The hand of that somer, which durst write such outrageous allow to be true, that has greater evidence of blasphemy against his Maker, tie Divine vengeance has made its truth than the matters of fact of Moses and his own executioner; which I would not have mentioned, of Christ; otherwise they cannot, with any
because the like judgment has befallen others, but that the
Theistical Club have set this up as a principle, and printed a show of reason, reject the one, and yet admit vindication of this same Blount for murdering himself, by way of of the other.
justlicata, u celf-murder; which some of them have since, as well as luruerly, horridly practised upon themselves.