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liness and Purity of the Divine Being ;' and that there is therefore great Necessity of a Saviour to bring us to God, and to rectify our depraved Nature.—You may certainly know, that there are a great Variety of Predictions of such a Saviour, dispersed through the whole Old Testament; and that the whole Nation of the.Jews always did, and still do, from thence live in raised Expectations of a Messiah.—You may certainly know, that there were a great Number of Rites and Ceremonies religiously observed and practised among the Jews; and that Sacrificing, in particular, was not only enjoined upon them, but early and generally practised among all Nations. For none of which Things can there be any Manner of Reason given or imagined, unless they were Types and Adumbrations of an expected Saviour.—You may certainly know, that the Time perfixed in the Jewish Prophecies for the Manisestation of the Mejfiah, was the very Time in which, by the concurring Testimony both of the Friends and Enemies of Christianity, the Lord Jesus did appear.—You may certainly know, that the Jewish Prophets did foretell z/uffering Saviour, a Saviour that should be wounded for our Transgressions, bruifed for our Iniquities, that frould ?nake his Soul an Offering for Sin ; and that should be cut off, but not for himself: And you are equally certain from all other Historians. as well as from the Evangelists, that our Lord Jesus did undergo such Opproby, Misery and Death as was foretold of the Messiah by the Prophets.—You may certainly know, that it was foretold in the Prophets, that the Scepter should not depart from Judah, and a Lawgiver from between his Feet, until the cont' ing of the Meffiah; but that aster his Death, the Jewish Sacrifices should cease, and their holy City and Sanftuary be destroyed and made desolate : And that the Event does assure us, that the Circumstances of the Jewish Nation did exactly answer to these Prophecies, both before and aster the Death of Jesus Christ. — You may certainly know, both by the Jewish and Christian Prophecies, that under the Gofpel Dispensation the Jews were to he rejected of God; and to continue despised and dispersed among all Nations; but the Gentiles to come to the Light of the Messiah, and see his Righteousness and Glory: and that the Event is agreeable to the Prediction.—You may certainly know, that the Rife of Antichrist was predicted to be after the Fall of the Roman Empire, when that could no longer let or restrain him; that he should appear under the Guise of a Minister of Religion, in the Temple of God; that he should pretend to all Power and . Signs, and lying Wonders; that he should make War with the Saints, and overcome them; that he should reside in the great City, that was then built upon seven Mountains, and reigned over the Kings of the Earth, which was true of the City of Rome only. And you may consider, whether all this is not true of the Pope and the Roman Papacy.—You may certainly know the amazing Progress of the Gofpel in the first Ages of Christianity, in the Face of the most formidable and powersul Oppositions; and its continuing Progress against all the Attempts of its heathen and papal Enemies. You may know the Excellency of its Doctrines, and the glorious Effects it hath upon the Hearts and Lives of true Believers.—You may know (as, blessed be God, Multitudes do know by Experience) how it conquers Mens Corruptions, changes their Natures, pacifies their Consciences, fills their Souls with Light and Joy, strengthens them against Temptations, sweetens the Afflictions of Lise, and fortifies them against all the Pains and Terrors of Death.—And
yot you also may know, that this Guspel is the Guspel of Christ, and consequently that these wondersul Efsects, which so apparently carry a divine Signature upon them, are produced by him.—All these Things, and others of a like Nature, which might be mentioned, are immediately open to your View, most visible and certain; and one would think that these alone would satisfy the Mind of a serious and impartial Inquirer into the Truth of Christianity. And especially when these are accompanied with such other Credentials of our holy Religion, which (though not so directly in View, yet) by necessary Consequence give us the same Assurance and Certainty of the Truth.
But it is Time I should come more directly to answer the Objection; and to shew you, how it may by necessary Consequence be known, that the Falls, upon which Christianity principally depends, are 'certainly true.
You yourself must own, it is impossible that those Doctrines can be salse, which are attested by so many and such Kind of Miracles, as are said to be wrought by our Lord Je/us Christ and his Apostles. —For God cannot set his Seal to a Lie; nor consirm a horrible Imposture, by his immediate Attestation from Heaven.
You must own, that it is impossible for the Apqstles, and other Witnesses of these miraculous O. perations, to be themselves deceived, while they had all the Means of Certainty in the Case before us, that ever any Man had in any Case whatsoever.
You must likewise own, that it is impossible for a great Number of sober, judicious and apparently honest Men, to spend their Lives in a continued Conspiracy against their own Ease, Comfort, Honour, Life, and eternal Welsare, f or no other Motive the but to deceive the World, and bring eternal Ruin upon themselves and their Fellow Creatures £ as these must have done, if they knew thofe Facts to be salse, which they published at their Peril, anil sealed with their Blood.
You must also own, that it was impossible to deceive the World about them, at the Time when these Facts were done, by reporting, that such miraculous Operations were openly persormed before them all, which none of them knew any Thing about.
You will certainly own, it is impossible that they could deceive the Churches to whom they wrote, by vain Pretences, that each one of these had themselves the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, such as Tongues, Miracles, Healing, Prophecy, and the like, when every one of them knew that there was nothing in it.
You must m like Manner own it impossible for such Multitudes of People, for so long a Tract of Time, to be impofed upon by Pretences of miraculous Operations; and none of them ever deteil the Imposture, so much as in one single Instance,. while all of them had the Opportunity of doing it when they pleased, if the Facts had not been true.
Can you imagine it any Ways possible, that such Multitudes in the first Ages of Christianity, in such distant Countries and Nations, mould conspire together to acknowledge these Facts, and the Doctrines founded on them, at the Peril of their Lives; and no Man among these Prosesfors themselves, or among the Heretics and Apostates that sell away from them, should discover the Fraud, either living or dying ?.
You will certainly own it utterly impossible, that so many thousands, in so many Lands, could with
Joy and Chearsulnefs submit to such poor and assisted Lives, and to iachcruel and barbarous Deaths, as were the common Lot of the first Christians, in Confirmation of a Religion, founded upon Facts which they knew to be false.
And you must acknowledge it also altogether impossible, at any Time aster these Facts were pretended to be done, to palm the History of them upon the World, if it was salse; and to persuade so many Nations to receive it for Truth. -—It were impossible to persuade any Nation, and much more all the early Nations ot Christendom, that at some distant forgotten Age there were a Number of Men that came among them, taught them the Doctrines of Christianity, consirmed the fame by Miracles, baptized them into the Faith, and estastablished a settled Order of the Ministry in their Churches: .from which Time, they have all of them prosessed the Christian Faith, had the New Testament in their Hands, and enjoyed a continued Succession of Ministers and Ordinances.—Let an Attempt of this Kind be made upon our Indians, and try if any one Man among them can be imposed upon to believe these Things.
To this I may add, that it is absolutely impossible, at any one Time, to have obtruded the inspi.red Writings upon the World, if they were indeed spurious; and to have made all the Christian Nations believe, that these were written in the Apostolic Age, speedily translated into divers Languages, publicly kept, and publicly read and preached in their Churches; that they and their Fathers before them had always reverenced and esteemed them as the Rule of their Lives, and their
Guide to eternal Happiness. What Success, but
Scorn and Derision, could be hoped for from such »n Attempt I . .