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% IL/. Point, which was- to prove, we have Efficient Evidence the Miracles were actually wrought. ;. ■—,And in Order to this, I need not prove, that the Apostles could not be deceived themselves; since they were Eye-Witnesses of our Saviour's Miracles, much less-could they be deceived, as to the Miracles they themselves performed, particularly as to that of the Gift of Tongues. For they must have had as much an internal Consciousness, that they could on a sudden understand and speak a Variety of Languages, which they never learned; as they had an internal Consciousness of their own Existence. They must have an intimate Feeling' of what passed within them. . f
My Business shall be to shew,
iji, That the Apostles had no Interest to deceive others, and
zdly, That they could, not have deceived Mankind -if they would; ,
- Then I am to prove, That the Apostles had no Interest to deceive others.
If Christianity was an Iffipostarej it wittSt*".^ a strange Imposture indeed ., an Imposture beneficial to the World, but dest«*ctive to the Authors, in the Nature and Tendency of the Thing itself: beneficial I fay td the World, since it forbad every Vrce, and enjoined every Virtue, that ceiiM make a Man more happy in himself, more serviceable to the World, and more acceptable to God. But as visibly, in it's genuine Consequences, destructive to the Authors ; since they could not expect to impeach the Justice of the Jewish Government, by charging the Crime of Murther, the Murther of the •Prince. of Life upon the Rulers, to disturb publick Settlements, and unhinge national Religions with Impunity; since they knew from the Indignities their Master metJwith that they were to promote it at the Expence of whatever was dear and valuable to them in this Life; since the Pagan Priests would every where work up the Dregs of the Populace into a Ferment, against the Propagators of a Religion, which could not take Place but at the Expence of their Interest.
It may be said, the Apostles were actuated by Ambition: They we're impatient
Sbrm. I. to set themselves above, the' undiftingiitfljed ,""""Y~"J Many, and to shew the Superiority of their Part6 by dissenting :from::the, Common
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It is,,granted, that :Arnbiriori. is sometimes as predominant in ithe Vulgar, as: it is jin Men of Letted, ,QX Heroes: But then it operates in a quite different Manner, and .flows in another Channel IrS.. t.\ _-Eor. instance, an igB.bfaht Peasant, .who has had a narrow and confined Education, may be desirous to be chei'Oracleof the Village, in which .he lives, dnd to get.and maintain an Ascendant over it. This would probably be the Heigh* of , his- Ambition: It could never. en$er; into his. Head, if he were in his Senses, without the Advantages of a refined Conversation,' or tihe Knowledge of Books, to .erect himself into a •Teacher of many Nations.-. The Philosopher indeed might be tempted to enlarge the Scene of Action, and to spread his Fame and Knowledge throughout the eWorld: But a Desire of Distinction in poor unlettered Men of common Sense, is confined within a narrower Sphere, it never prompts them to take' the World for their Hheatre^-zxA Mankind for their Audience.
If then the Apostles were Men of convSerM- lnionr Sense, which is. plain from that excellent System fof;Moj:al3ty, which they have left us, explained in the clearest Precepts', erifdrcedi ;by the strongest* Motives* and exemplified; by .the brightest Pattern; they.conld. not,. were their Passion for Glory never so strong, merely upon the Strength of that Motive, have formed a wild romantic Project of. propagating a new Relir gion among the. polite, as well as barbarous Nations, without either Riches or Power to obtrude their. Sentiments upon the World, or Art and Address to insinuate them.
No, if they had not been swayed by a Principle of Obedience to their Creator, and. a well-grounded Belief in him, that he would prosper their Endeavour; that Attempt, viz. for a few defenceless ignor rant Men to change the Religions of all the Earth, by introducing a rational Devor tion, and a pure Morality, had been a Kind of religious Knight Errantry, which some frantic Enthujiajis might have set on foot; but was inconsistent with their Character, who spoke the Words of Soberness and Truth. These then were the true Springs of their Actions, a settled Corjvic-r j . tion
Si*u. I. tion 0f the Truth of the Resurrection, a '"^ firm Confidence that'they reposed- in their Maker and Saviour, and a certain Expectation , of Heavenly Rewards in Reversion. Had they not believed the Troth of the Resurrection, and that God would give a Sanction to it by Miracles $ VainGlory,'it is certain, could not prompt them to embark in an Attempt which, they could not but foresee, must terminate in their Disgrace and Defeat; they being in themselves very incompetent Instruments, to occasion lo great a Revolution in Religion.
Betides, it is plain Ambition could never have been their Motive: Had they indeed pretended to preach and write from their mvn Fund of Sense, and to strike out an intirely new Track of Thought, without treading servilely in the Steps of another; then there had been some Colour for taxing them with Vain-Glory: But, instead of this, they disclaim the Vanity of being thought Originals: They refer all the Glory of being the first Author of these beneficial Truths to their Lord and Master: He was the Master Builder who laid the Plan j they desire only to be considered as 2 Under