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Subtilty, were employ'd to destroy. Yet this Apostate Emperor c recommended the Charity, Piety, and good Conversation of the Christian Bishops to the Imitation of his own Priests: He could d not deny the Miracles of Moses and Ellas., and of c Christ himself. For what Reason , but because he found it impossible to disprove them? He had the Roman Archives in his Possession } Why did he not confute what Justin Martyr and Tertullian had pubiish'd from them, concerning the Birth of Christ , and the Acts of Pilate relating to his Miracles and Resurrection? would he have had Recourse to remote Arguments ^ and tedious Reasonings, if the Jews, whom he so highly favoured in Opposition to the Gospel, or any other Enemies of Christianity, could have furnissi'd him with Evidence against the Matters of Fact, upon which our Religion entirely depends?
And since, as sure as there is a God, there must be a Reveal'd Religion •, if any Man will dispute the Truth of the Christian Religion, let him instance in any other Religion that can make a better Plea, and has more Certainty that it came from God \ let him produce any other Religion that has more visible Chara'cters of Divinity in it, and we will not scruple to be of it; but if it be impossible for him to mew any such, (as has been prov'd) then he ought to be o£ this, since there must be some Reveal'd Religion; and if this Religion, which has more Evidence for it, than any other Religion can be pretended to have, and all that it could be requisite for it to have, supposing it true, and which it is therefore impossible to discover to be false, if it were so } if this Religion be not,true, God must be wanting to Mankind , in what concerns their eternal Interest and Happiness •, he must be wanting to himself, and to his own Attri
0 Epist.49. Fragment. Epist. p.305. * Apud Cyrill. I. ic. p. 343. « Ib. I. vi. p. 191, 213.
bates of Goodness, Justice, and Truth. And therefore he, that upon a due Examination of all the Reasons and Motives to it, will not be a Christian , can be no better than an Atheist, if he discern the Consequence of things, and will hold to his own Principles, for there can be no Medium, if we rightly consider the Nature of God , and of the Christian Religion; but as sure as there is a God , (and nothing can be more certain ) the Gospel was reveal'd by him.
The Resolution of Faith.
HAving proved the Truth and Certainty of our Religion , I shall in the last place, upon these Principles, give a Resolution of oitr Faith , which is a Subject that has caus'd such unnecessary and unhappy Disputes amongst Christians in these latter Ages j for in the Primitive Times, this was no Matter of Controversy, as indeed it could not then, and ought not now to be.
1.. Considering the Scriptures only as an History ', containing the Actions and Doctrines of Moses and the Prophets , and of our Saviour and his Apostles, we have the greatest humane Testimony, that can be, of Men, who had all the Opportunities of knowing the Truth of those Miracles, &c. which gave Evidence and Authority to the Doctrines, as Reveal'd from God, and who could have no Interest to deceive others, but exposed themselves to all manner of Dangers, and Infamy, and Torments, by bearing Testimony to the Truth of what is contain'd in the Scriptures •, whereas Impostures are wont to be invented, not to incur such'Sufferings, but to avoid them, or to obtain th? Advantages and Pleasures of this World. And so this Testimony amounts to a moral Certainty, or as it is properly enough called by some , to a moral Infallibility, because it implies a moral impossibility of our being deceived by it: such a Certainty it is, as that nothing with any reason can be objected against it. We can have as little reason to doubt, that Christ and his Apostles did, and suffered, and taught, what the Scriptures relate of them, in Jerusalem, Aniiuch, &o as that there ever were such places in the World ■■, nay, we have that much better attested than this, for many Men have died in Testimony of the Truth of it.
II. This Testimony being considered with respect to the nature of the thing testified, as it concerns eternal Salvation, which is of the greatest concernment to all Mankind, it appears that God's Veracity and Goodness are engaged, that we should nor. be deceived inevitably in a Matter of this consequence: So that this moral Infallibility becomes hereby absolute Infallibility: and that which was before but Humane Faith, becomes Divine, being grounded not upon Humane Testimony, but upon the Divine Attributes, which do attest and confirm that Humane Testimony i and so Divine Testimony is the ultimate ground, why I believe the Will of God to be delivered in the Scriptures •■, it is no particular revealed Testimony indeed, but that which is equivalent to it, viz., the constant Attestation of God by his Providence. For it is repugnant to the very notion of a God, to let Men be deceived, without any possible help or remedy, in a matter of such importance. And thus we have the ground of our Faith absolutely infallible, because it is evident from the Divine Attributes, that God doth confirm this Humane Testimony by his own.
III. The Argument then proceeds thus: If the Scriptures were false, it would be impossible to discover them to be so j and it is inconsistent with the
Truth and Goodness of Almighty God, to suffer a Deceit of this nature to pass upon Mankind, without any possibility of a Discovery; therefore it follows, that they are not false. Here is, 1. The Object, or Thing to be believed, viz.. that the Revelation delivered to us in the Scriptures, is from God. 2. The Motive or Evidence to induce our Belief, viz.. Humane Testimony. 3. A confirmation of that Testimony, or the Formal Principle and Reason of our Belief, viz.. the Divine Goodness and Truth. The Object therefore, or Thing believed, is the fame to us that it was to those who saw the Miracles by which the Scriptures stand confirmed, viz.. the revealed Will of God: and the Ground or Foundation of our Belief, is the fame that theirs was, viz.. the divine Goodness and Truth, whereby we are assured, that God would not suffer Miracles to be wrought in his own Name, according to Prophecies formerly delivered, and with all other circumstances of credibility, only to confirm a Lie. The only difference then between the resolution of Faith in us, and in the Christians who were converted by the Apostles themselves, is this, that tho' we believe the lame things, and upon the fame grounds and reasons with them, yet we have not the fame immediate Motives or Evidence to induce our Belief; or to fatisfie us in these Reasons, and convince us, that the Revealed Will of God, contained in the Scriptures, is to be believed upon these grounds; that is, to fatisfie and convince us, that the belief of the Scriptures being the Word of God, is finally.resolved into the Authority of God himself, and is as well certified to us, as his Divine Attributes can render it. For they were assured of this, from what their own Senses perceived; but we have our assurance of it from the Testimony of others.
The Question therefore will be, whether the Motives and Arguments for this Belief in us, or the means whereby we become assured, that the Revealed Will of God is contained in the Scriptures, be not as sufficient to produce a Divine Faith in us, and to establish our Faith upon the Divine Authority, as the Motives and Arguments which those had, who lived with the Apostles, and saw their Miracles, could be to produce that Faith in them, which resolved itself into the Divine Authority. And this Enquiry will depend upon these Two Things: 1. Whether we may not be assured of some things as certainly from the Testimony of others, as from our own Senses. 2. Whether this be not the present case, relating to the resolution of Faith. 1 shall therefore coniider in the first place, the Certainty which we have for the Matters of Fad, by which the Authority of the Scriptures is proved and confirmed to us, compared with the Evidence of Sense, and will then apply it to the resolution of Faith.
I. In many cases Men seem generally agreed, that there is as much cause to believe what they know from others, as what they see and experience themselves. For there may be such circumstances ofcredibility, as equal the evidence even of Sense it self ^ no evidence can satisfie Sense so much indeed, nor perhaps so much affect the Passions, as that of Sense; but there may be other evidence, which may give as clear conviction, and altogether as good satisfaction to our Reason,as that which is immediately derived from our Senses, concerning the Being of Objects, or the Truth of Matters of Fact. Thus those who never travelled to the Indies, do as little doubt that there is such a place, as those who have been never so often there \ and all Men believe, there was such a Alan as Jklim Ca/ar., with as little scruple as if they had lived in his time, and had seen and spoke with him. I suppose no Man in his wits makes any more doubt, but there are such places as Jud<ca and Jerusalem, from the constant report of Historians and Travellers, than if he had been in those places himself, and had lived the greatest: