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On the Evidences of Christianity.

John III. 2.
Rabbi, we know, that thou art a Teacher

come from God. For no Man can do these

Miracles, that thou doeft, except God be : with him. !

nii ' ..

T Have already proved in a former Dif-Serm. II.

course, that Miracles may be so cir1 cumstanced, as to be direct and decisive Evidences of a divine Power and Commisfion T hat it was absolutely impossible the Apostles should be deceived themselves, as Witnesses of our Saviour's Miracles and their own. That it was morally impos

SERM. II. lible they fhould attempt to deceive others,

The Subject of my present Discourse is to prove, that the Apostles could not have deceived Mankind, if they would ; nor have imposed a false Religion upon the World, by Virtue of a pretended Commisfion from Heaven.

If the Christian Religion, containing Doctrines unpolatable to Flesh and Blood, void of every Advantage, besides it's own internal Excellency, to recommend it, and clogged with a great many Incumbrances, could carry Conviction with it from East to West, by such incompetent Instruments, in fo port a Time, in spite of the most refolved Oppofitionis: If this Plant, from a flender Appearance at first, grew, and waxed a great Tree, when no kindly Sunshine of worldly Power yet smiled upon it; nay, when the Inclemency of the Season beat hard against it; the Growth of it was un doubtedly, marvellous.

It is granted, that in Matters of pure Speculation, the Bulk of Mankind may be, and often are, deceived; because they have not Leisure or Capacity, to unravel studied Sophistry, and nicely to distinguish between what is plausible, and what is solid and

substantial: - fubftantial: But the Case is different as to Serm. II.

Miracles, which are Matters of Fact, that
fall under the Cognizance of our Senses
Here the Vulgar and the Learned are equal,
ly competent Judges, and you can persuade
neither of them to believe he sees a glaring
Fact, which he does not actually behold.

Either then the Apostles (Wrought fuch
E Matters of Facts of they did not. If they

did, then they were invested with a Power
from God: For evil Spirits would not, if
they could, empower them to beat down
Idolatry: If they did not, then it is unaca
countable, how a Set of Fishermen, de-
fpiled for their Poverty, and odious upon
the Account of theig Nation, should pro,

pagate through many Nations, not to say į the whole known World, such an unlikely

Story as this,' viz. That ane, who was crucified as a common Malefactor in un dæa, was to be adored as a God ; and that tao at such a Juncture of Time, when their

numerous Converts in several Parts of the i World, some of whom were Men of

known Distinction and Opulency, (such as Dionyfius of the Areopagus, Jofeph of the Ferwijl Şanhedrin, Sergius Paulus a Pras conful, Flavius. Clemens a Roman Cansul,

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Sezw. 11. &c.) who had, very probably, enjoyed one

continued Sunshine of Prosperity ; must bid
adieu to all the Blandishments of Life, on:
dergo whatever is diftasteful to human Na-
ture, and either suffer, or be in Danger of
suffering Martyrdom::.>
. I would gladly have the Deists' try the
Experiment: Let them send the ableft they
can single out of their numerous Fraternity
to broach such a like Story: For Inftance,
that one, who suffered in England for a
Malefactor, 'is risen from the Dead, and is
to be worshipped as the Saviour of Man-
kind : Let them send them to Portugal or
Spain, where the Inquisition reigns," and
where as exquifite Tortures will be applied
to them, as were to the primitive Martyrs,
It is easy to see the Consequence: They
themselves would-meet with a very warm
Reception ; but their Doctrine with a very
cold one: : Both would be involved in the
fame Doom, both perish and come to
nought. If then the Apostles had not a
Power of working genuine Miracles, and
displaying the amplest Credentials of divine
Power ; it will be the greatest Miracle of
all, that without either Riches to bribe,
Authority to awe, or acquired -Knowledge


and Dexterity to over-reach Men into a Serm. I. Compliance with their Notions, they shouldn e pave the way to fo general and great a .. Turn in religious Affairs; when these boasted Masters of Reason, the Deists, these Men of large Views, who by an uns common Superiority of Soul have disen

gaged themselves, from the Prejudices of · Education, would not be able to bring over

a Majority of Men, nay, perhaps, not one Man of common Sense in any one Nation ; if they should set on Foot such another unpromising Project.

Let us suppose, that a person in our Days should embark in a Design of cancelling all the old Religions, and building a new one upon their Ruins; that, to com-, pass this Design, he pretended to raise the Dead, make the Blind see, the Lame walk, the Deaf hear, &c. that not long after his Death, his Followers publish a punctual circumstantial Relation of all these Things, mentioning the Places where, the Persons upon whom, the Witnesses before whom, these Miracles were said to be wrought : Let us put the Case, that they too pretended to have the same miraculous Powers vested in them, and that their Doctrine gained


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