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been False Prophecies and Miracles, they must be supposed to have been either before, or at the lame time, or after those Prophecies and Miracles by which the True Religion was delivered \ if before, or at the feme time, then the fame Divine Wisdom and Goodness which obliges God to reveal his Will to Mankind, must oblige him to take care that the Impostures of those False Prophecies and Miracles by some means might have been discovered. But there is great reason to believe that true Revelations mould be first made to Men, before God would suffer them to be tempted with false ones ', and if the false were after the true Revelations, then the true Revelations themselves are that by which we ought to judge of all others.
But to speak more particularly of Miracles, which are the present Subject. It is inconsistent with the Infinite Truth, and Honour, and Goodness, and Mercy of God, to suffer Man to be deluded by-false Miracles, wrought under a pretence of his own Authority, without any possibility of discovering the Imposture: And therefore if we should suppose there had pass'd any time before the discovery of his Will to Mankind, he could not suffer Men, but through their own fault, to be imposed upon by such Miracles •, but either by the fajsc and wicked Doctrines which they were brought to promote and establish, as Idolatry, Uncleanness, Murthers, &c. or by some other token of Imposture, they might have been undeceived ; And both in the Old and New Testament God has given us warning against false Miracles, Dent. xiii. I. Mat. xxiv. 24. Gal. i. 8. 2 Thejf. ii. 9. so that we may be assured that we are to give no credit to any Miracle that can be wrought to confirm any other Doctrine than what we find in the Scriptures; and if we can but be certify'd that they were true Miracles which gave Testimony and Evidence to them, we need concern our selves about no other.
And the Miracles by which the Scriptures are confirmed and authorized must be true; because there is no precedent Divine Revelation which they contradict, nor any immoral or false Doctrine which they deliver, nor any thing else contained in them whereby they can be proved to be false: And in this case, that which all the Wit and Understanding of Man cannot prove to be false, must be true, or else God would suffer his own Name and Authority to be usurped and abused, and Mankind to be imposed upon in a thing of infinite consequence, without any possibility of discovering the Imposture, which it is contrary to the Divine Attributes for him to permit -, but either by the Works themselves, or by the End and Design of them, or by some means or other, the Honour, and Wisdom, and .Mercy of God is concerned to detect all such Impostures. If Miracles be wrought to introduce the Worship of other Gods, besides him, whom Reason, as well as Scripture, assures us to be the only True God \ if they be done to seduce Men to immoral Doctrines and Practices \ if they be performed to contradict the Religion already confirmed by Miracles, in which nothing of this nature could possibly be discovered; if never so astonishing Miracles be wrought for such ill Designs as these, they are not to be regarded, but rejected with that Constancy which becomes a Man who will act according to the Principles of Natural Reason and Religion. But when Miracles were performed, which, both for the End and Design of them, as well as for the manner and circumstances of their Performance, had all the credibility that any Miracle could have, if it were really wrought by God's immediate Power to confirm a Revelation i if these Miracles have been foretold by Prophecies, (as, on the other side, the Prophecies were fulfilled by the Miracles,) if they were donepublickly before all- forts of Men, and that g(ten, and by many Men successively, for divers Ages together, and .... all all agreed in the same Doctrine and Design; if neither the Miracles themselves, nor the Doctrines which are attested by them, can be discovered to have any deceit or defect in them, but be most excellent and divine, and most worthy of God \ in such a case we have all the Evidence for the Truth-of the Miracles, and of the Religion which they were wrought to establish, that we can have for the Being of God himielf. For if these Miracles and this Religion be not from God, we must suppose either that God cannot, t>r that he will not so reveal himself by Miracleto the World, as to distinguish his own Revelation from Impostures: both which Suppositions are contrary to the Divine Attributes; contrary to God's Omnipotence, because he can do all things, and therefore can exceed the Power of all Finite Beings; and contrary to his Honour, and Wisdom, and Goodness, because these require both that he should reveal himself to the World, and that he should do it by Miracles, in such a manner as to make it evident which is his Revelation. But if he both can and will put such a Distinction between False Miracles and True, as that Men shall not, except it be by their own fault, be seduced by false Miracles , then that Religion which is confirmed by Miracles, concerning which nothing can be discovered to be either impious or false, must be the true Religion.' For we have seen, that there must be some Revealed Religion, and that this Religion must be revealed by Miracle} and we have the Goodness, and Truth, and Justice of God engaged, that .we should not be imposed upon by false Miracles, without being able to discern the Imposture: And therefore that Religion which both by its Miracles, and Doctrine, and Worship, appears to be Divine, and could not be proved to be false, if it were so, mult certainly be true j because the Goodness and Honour of God is concerned, that Mankind, in a Matter of this consequence, should not be deceived, without
out their own fault or neglect, by Impostures vented under his own Name and Authority. Upon which account, the Sin against the Holy Ghost* in ascribing the Miracles wrought by Christ, to Beelzebub, was so heinous above all other Crimes, this being to reject the utmost Means that can be used for Man's Salvation, and in effect to deny the Attributes and very Being of God. The sum of this Argument is, That though Miracles are a most fit and proper Means to prove the Truth of Religion, yet they are not only to be considered alone, but in conjunction with other Proofs •, and that they must necessarily be true Miracles, or Miracles wrought to establish the true Religidh, when the Religion upon the account whereof they are wrought cannot be discovered to be. false, either by any defect in the Miracles, or by any other Means, but has ali the Marks and Characters of Truth. Because God would not suffer the Evidence of Miracles, and all other Proofs, to concur to the confirmation of a false Religion, beyond all possibility of dis-' covering it to be so.
III. How Divine Reveldtions may be supposed to be preserved in the World. . It "is reasonable to suppose that Divine Revelations should be committed to Writing, that they might be preserved for the benefit of Mankind, and delivered down to Posterity, and that a more than ordinary Providence should be concerned in their preservation. For whatever has been &id by some, of the Advantage of Oral Tradition, for the conveyance of Doctrines, beyond that of Writing, is so notoriously fanciful and strained, that it deserves no serious Answer. For till Men shall think it safest to make Wills, and bequeath and purchase Estates by Word of Mouth, rather than by Instruments in Writing, it is in vain to deny that this is the best aind se-* curest way of conveyance that eaa be taken: so the - common Sense of Mankind declares, and so the Experience of the World finds it to be in things Which
Men take all possible care about j and it is too manifest, and much to be lamented , that Men are more sollicitous about things Temporal, than about Eternal i which affords too evident a confutation of all the pretences of the Infallibility of Oral Tradition, upon this ground, That the Subject Matter of it are things upon which1 the Eternal Happiness or Misery of Mankind depends. Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, for ever and ever, Isa. XXX. 8.
IV. It is requisite that a Divine Revelation should be of great Antiquity: Because, upon the same grounds that we cannot think that God would not at all. Reveal himself to Mankind, we cannot suppose that he would suffer the World to continue long under a state of Corruption and Ignorance, without taking some care to remedy it, by putting Men into a capacity of knowing and practising the Duties ofVertue and Religion.
V. Another Requisite of a Divine Revelation, is, that it should be fully promulged and published to the World, for the general Good and Benefit of Mankind, that it may attain the Ends for which a Revelation must be designed.