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Serm. II. of the Nation, the Partition of the Temple
was rent from the Top to the Bottom; that the Graves were opened, and the Dead appeared in the Heart of the Nation; that fifty Days after, at the Solemnity of Pentecost, to celebrate which People resorted from different Parts of the World, there was a Descent of fiery Tongues upon them, by Virtue of which several, who, it could be proved, knew no Tongue but their native one, were empowered to converse pub. lickly with Men of different Nations, in their own Language : Suppose, I say, they Mould have asserted these Things without any Foundation ; could they have persuaded one Man to have swallowed such crude glaring Falfhoods in Matters of Fact, and make him believe he saw what he never did, a supernatural Eclipse, and heard what he did not, the Miracle of Tongues? If they could, I should not know which most to wonder at, their Modesty in asserting fuch notorious Untruths: or his Understanding in believing them. Thus their Story would have been an empty Bubble, which must have funk and vanished, almost as
soon as it rose. That single Fact of the .: miraculous Eclipse, if false, must have
proved a Milftone about the Neck of it, and Serm. II. sunk it irretrievably. It put it in the Power of Man, Woman, and Child, to disprove their Relation: Every one would tell them, such a Thing must be notorious and visible to the whole World: which yet had escaped their Notice, and that of every one else they knew. They could not then have imposed upon the Age in which they lived. !.
The only Thing, that can be supposed is, that the Story might be put upon after Ages, at some distant Period of Time.
Place then the Date and Rise of Christianity, at what Period of Time you please ; could the Propagators of it persuade any People, to believe such a Story of public notorious Facts, which they never heard of before, without Foundation or Evidence ? No certainly, if they should tell us, that, to perpetuate the Memory of these Actions, the History of them had been written by Eye-Witnesses, public Sacraments appointed, weekly and annual Festivals celebrated from that Time to this, and a Church founded, against which the Gates of Hell never could prevail. For then the Story would carry it's own Confutation along with it, and they might have as well attempted to make
SERM. II, People believe they beard ignorant Men
Speak all Manner of Languages, or law our
Books, Books, which contain them, could never Serm. II. have been received; nor the Festivals and Observances, which conmemorate them, have taken Place in that Age, in which they were said to be done ; Because it was then in every Body's Power to disprove them. They could not, in any after Ages, have been imposed upon Mankind : Because though Absurdities may be grafted upon an old Religion, yet no Nation ever did, or will, "voluntarily embrace a Religion entirely new, without any Evidence. And it is certain, they were not thus imposed upon Mankind long after ; because it appears by uncontradi&ted written Tradition, that these Actions, august Ceremonies, and Festivals, did commence at the Period ashgned, and have flowed down from their first Fountain Head to the present Age, in one uninterrupted Stream.""... .. ..
To apply this to the Truth of the Resurrection in particular. The Apostolical · Age could not be deceived by a sham Story of a Resurrection, because our Saviour's Refurretion was as public and notorious, as his Death and Crucifixion, though not in itself, yet in it's immediate Consequences, I mean those Miracles wrought before Thou2. ,
Serm. II. fands, by Eye-Witnesses, to confirm the m Truth of it. Was it then set on Foot in
fome after Age ? No; because both the weekly and yearly Memorials of it are of as old a Date as Christianity itself, and, from the first Propagation of it, have been successively handed down to us. That Sunday was the weekly Memorial of it, even in the
Apostolical Age, is plain from St. John, who says, that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day,' or the Day then set apart to commemorate the Lord's Resurrection. And that there was an annual Memorial of it. instituted by the Apostles, and continued down to us, is plain from the early Difputes about the precise Time, on which it was to be observed; though the Observation of Easter, as an Apostolical Institution, was never controverted. In short, the History of the Gospel has all the Testimony, that any ancient Matter of Fact ever had; and it has, besides, several material Evidences, which other ancient Matters of Fact have not. For are there any other ancient Matters of Fact, which were attested, by Eye-Witnesses, who expected nothing in this Life but Miseries and Hardships for their Attestations ; who were ready to lay