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SERM III, tion from him, to stamp a Credit upon
Fallhood, by Virtue of that Mission.
Having thus far cleared the Way, I thall proceed to prove the Matter of fact; that the Apostles were actually inspired. ..
Now it is certain, that the Apostles were inspired, in propagating and preaching the Gospel : Men of their Education could never acquire such a prodigious Variety of Languages, as enabled them to speak to the several Nations, where they travelled, - in their own native Tongues, and to spread the Gospel from East to West, to the uttermost parts of the known World. This Command of several Tongues, by which they were empowered to make Converts in the remotelt Countries, cannot be accounted for in a natural Way, it must be the Effect of Inspiration. 7. - Now if God inspired them in the Affair of Preacbing; it would follow much more strongly, that he inspired them in committing, what they preached, to Writing : Since their Preaching was confined within a narrower Circle, and operated but upon Few in Comparison. But their Writings took in a wider Sphere, were of a more diffufve Infrience, and were intended to
reach to all Ages, as well as extend to all Serm.III, Nations.'
I have already proved, in a former Difcourse, that the Miracles recorded in Scripture were wrought by God; and that we · have fufficient Evidence, that such Miracles were actually wrought. If then such Miracles were performed ; such an uninterrupted Profusion of unrivalled 'wondrous Works was given by him, who doth nothing in vain, for some important End. No other important End can be assigned, but the rescuing Mankind from Error, and discovering to them neceffary Truth. Where God designs the End, he must defiġn the Means requisite to that End. The Means requisite to that End are to preserve his Instruments, in revealing his Will, from every materal Mistake. Consequently, we may implicitly acquiefce in the Belief of the Scriptures. For, if there are no material Mistakes, it can do us no Harm to believe, what will no Way affect us. But if there are material Era rors, which may affect our Happiness; then God's Defign, in which he embarked,
e; and that mighty Apparatus, that Waste of Miracles, anfwered no
Serm.III. rational End at all, if it did not compass
this End, viz. to guide Mankind to beneficial Truth, and to rescue them from Fallhood.:
Divine Credentials (such are Miracles) prove a divine Mission. He who has a divine Mission, thus attested, speaks with Authority from God. He who speaks with Authority from God, must speak several important Truths, and can speak Nothing, but the Truth. It is certain, that the Apostles pretended to divine Inspiration; and it is as certain, that, if they had been uninspired, that Being, who cannot lie, would never have declared himself in Favour of Persons guilty of a folemn and deliberate Lię, and born them Witness with Signs and Wonders. When therefore we. are asked, whether the Apostles, who were but Men, could be infallible ? we answer, that in the common Scenes, and ordinary Occurrences of Life, they were fallible, like other Men; but when they acted in their extraordinary Capacity, as Ambassa-, dors of God, as Prophets and Apostles ;. there they must be considered as infallible.. Had they grossly mistaken, or wilfully misrepresented the divine Will; God would di ist
have revoked the Commission, which they Serm. III. had abused, for the same Reason that he authorized them at first; and would have invested some other Persons with superior Powers to confront them, and to disabuse the World from any Error, that might be imposed upon it in his sacred Name. How weak, when considered in this Light, is the Objection against Inspiration, from the Disagreement of St. Peter' and St. Paul, when the latter at Antioch withstood the former to the Face ? For, supposing that St. Peter had differed from St. Paul, in a Point of Do&trine and Principle, and not, as he only did, in a Point of Behaviour ; yet what would be the mighty formidable Consequence, that could be drawn from thence ? Nothing would follow but this, viz. that, when any Person fent by God should attempt to deceive others; the Deity would raise' up some other Man, who Thould be effectually enabled to withstand him, to undeceive Mankind, and to prevent that Mischief, which his Falling-off from the Truth might otherwise occafion.' :
on. :: That at a Time, when the Word of God was made of none Effe&t by the Traditions of
Serm.III the Pharisees, when the Jews were devoted
to external Observances to the Neglect of inward Piety, when they were prepossessed with an Opinion, that they were to continue God's peculiar People without the Admission of the Gentiles, some of the loweft Rank and Education should enlarge their Minds from national Prejudices, and inveterate Errors, and should publish the only Religion, which is fit to be the Religion of all Mankind, free from the Superstitions of the Pagan World, and the numerous Ceremonies of the Jewish; is a Matter of Fact, which wants to be accounted for, and cannot be accounted for, but by Inspiration. Where Thall we find among the Philosophers such a compleat Body of moral and religious Duties founded upon such Promises and Threatnings, as the Gospel contains ?
“ That if you put Virtue into one Scale " and the whole World into the other, the “ former, will infinitely outweigh the lat“ ter * ;” is a very exalted Notion, and would have been a just one, if the Author had taken into the Account a future State, which only can give such a Weight to Vir..* Audebo virtutis amplitudinem quafi in altera libræ lance ponere. Terram, mihi crede, ea lanx et maria deprimet. Cicero de Finibus. Pag. 435. Ed. Davis. ..