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'- . Contempt of worldly Things, which set
TTIRTV thcm a^ove tkofe Temptations by which ,,' * Men are usually sway 'd to make use of indirect and dishonest Arts.
Not only a few of their Scholars and their earliest Successors, whose Writings are still extant, had this great Opinion of them j but vast Multitudes of People of all Degrees and Professions, and in all Countries, who had been converted by their Preaching, and were Eye-witnesses of their Conversation, gave most convincing Proofs that they entertain'd the highest Veneration for them. The whole Catholic Church, taken out of all Nations and Languages, receiv'd their Doctrines as the Declarations of God, and submitted to their Injunctions as to Divine Constitutions; and this without Compulsion, without the Persuasions of Eloquence, without any View to temporal Interest, generally at their Peril, and to their Disgrace, and oftentimes to their great Inconvenience, and the enduring most painful Sufferings; to the Loss of Goods and Estate, and eyen of Life.
Now Now it is utterly inconceivable that Ib ----. numerous a Body .of Men, so widely dis-J^*^;
pers'd, should all conspire to act at this J
Rate, had not the Apostles by an unblameable and slrining Behaviour gain'd to themselves the Character of Men of God; the Reputation of more than ordinary Probity and Sanctity; and had they not by persevering in such Behaviour maintain'd that Character and Reputation to the end.
The Attestation of so large and diffusive a Society as was the'Univerfal Primitive Church to the Character of the Apostles is of itself sufficient to bear any Stress that may be laid upon it; and is besides very much confirm'd by their own Writings, in which there is not the least Sign of Cheat or Imposture, but all possible Appearance of Truth and Honesty. There is every where visible in them the greatest Plainness and Simplicity; and there runs thro' them iuch a Spirit of Piety and all Virtue, as seems inimitable by^any but -such as are indeed endowed with thoCe Qualifications which w-j'l' the .'- ^"»- -the Apostles axe reported fa hajwebeen ^[^J: Masters of. \ 0 ~- .-. .*T -- ^n , y ' If to all this we add, that their Enemies, antient or modern, were never able to fix upon them any Imputation tending to derogate from their Credit j altho' it. yery much concern'd them to do this, and they undoubtedly would have done jt, had they been able j nothing more aeed be said to establish the general Character of the Witnesses of the Resurrection.
And in this particular Transaction there is no manner of likelyhood that they were Guilty of any Fraud, or were influenced by any indirect Views. But there are the strongest Reasons to believe that they acted from Principles of Conscience, out of pure Zeal for Truth, and with the greatest Integrity.
The Apostles were, almost all of them, simple and illiterate Persons, who "made no Figure, nor had any considerable Interest; of mean Parentage and Education,: and in lpw Circumstances, This is generally acknowledged even By
the the Advef fairies of Christianity, who haVe1-*
from hence rais'd an Objection against it. .„ Jfl
That a Company of such Persons as these _ * *
should ever once entertain a Thought os Proselyting the World to themselves, by spreading a Story which they themselves knew to be false, and which it was not likely any would hastily and upon slight Grounds admit to be true, in order to introduce a Religion which was to subvert all other Religions already established, and which was directly contrary to the Lusts and Passions, the Errors and Vices of all Mankind; That they should ever hope to succeed in such a Design as this, without any human Assistance or Prospect of it, under the greatest Difficulties and Disadvantages, and maugre the most violent Opposition all the World would be sure to make against it; That notwithstanding all Discouragements and Obstacles, they mould by such wise and effectual Methods prosecute it, as actually to accomplish it, and thereby bring about the most important and remarkable Revolution that ever was; is a Thing so
— very remote from all Probability, so very
TIF iv near t0 ImP°ffibility, that he who credits
__' \ it, must credit a Thing much harder to
be believ'd than the Resurrection itself.
Let Us consider in what Manner, and by what Methods the Apostles carried on their Design, and fee whether they afford any just Grounds to suspect: a Forgery. It is undeniable, that they began to testify the Resurrection of their Master, not after a long Interval of Time, but quickly after he had been publickly crucified, while the Circumstances of his Death and Burial were fresh in every ones Memory, and the common Topics of all Conversation. Not in a Country far distant from the Scene of Action, but in the very Place where their Master had been lately put to Death and buried; where the Actors in that Tragedy, and many also of the Spectators resided; and where all Persons had the best Opportunity of enquiring into and knowing the Truth. Not to a few only, not privately and in Corners j but in the Face of