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gross for you to entertain; and yet I may venture to challenge you to think of any other Way, in which it is possible this could be done,
But you tell me, " It yet appears the greatest "Disficulty to you, to come at any Certainty of "the Truth of thofe Facts, upon which the Evi"dence of Christianity depends." And I readily acknow ledge, that if these Facts are not true, all our Reasonings from Prophecy, and Miracles top, will come to Nothing. It is therefore proper to consider this Case more particularly.—And in order that this may be brought into the clofest View, and the Conclusion necessarily force itself upon our Minds; let us consider what Consequences must follow upon the Suppofal, that these Facts are
not true. You can have no rational Doubt of
these Things, but upon one of these Suppositions: Either,
1. That the apostles, and other Reporters of these Facts, did themselves certainly know that their Narratives of these Miracles were all of them mere Fiflions and Falshoods; and that they never did in Fact see any liich miraculous Works persormed by Jesus Chrif; they never did see and converse with him aster his Resurrection ; .and that they never had those miraculous Gifts and Powers themselves; nor ever instrumentally conveyed them to others.—Or,
2. That the Reporters of diese Facts, and many thousands of others, had their Senses and Imaginations imposed upon; and were made to believe, that they did see, hear, and seel, such miraculous Operations, as were never persormed.—Or else, .
3. That this whole History was an Aster-Gatnt, and a mere Piece of Forgery, obtruded upon the 'World aster the Facts were pretended to be done.
These are ail the Suppositions that can poffibly be made in this Case. And I have already, in my second Letter, offered you Come Proof, that they are all of them unreasonable and absurd.——— However, for your Satissaction, I will endeavour to shew you, under each of these Suppositions, some of thofe Absurdities that will necessarily follow from them.
In the first Place, if it be suppofed that the Re. porters of these Facts did themselves certainly know that they were false, then it will follow, that thousands of others, before whom those Miracles were laid to be done, did also certainly know that they were made Fictions and Fables. For they were as capable of Certainty, whether they had seen thofe Multitudes of plain, open, visible Facts,which are reported, as the Apostles were themselves.—— Upon this Supposal, all Judea and Jerusalem must certainly know, that they never saw any such Detent of the Holy Ghost in cloven Tongues upon the Apostles and Company; and that they knew nothing of thofe Gifts of Languages, which were pretended.—The several Churches throughout the World, among whom the Apostles went, did certainly know, that they saw no Miracles wrought by them in Confirmation of their Mission; that they never had, nor knew anyThing about thofe miraculous Gifts, which were said to be so common among them. And yet that all these conspired in the Deceit (Jews as well as Gentiles) to the utter Subversion of the Religion in which they had been educated ; and Multitude of them, at the Expence of their Honours, Estates. and Lives, not one Person among them all appearing to detect the Villainy ; the Jewj tamely submitting to the Lofs of their Religion, and to the Imputation of the blackest Crime that ever was committed; and the Chriflian Churches as tamely submitting to all
all that is fhocking and terrible to Nature, rather than contradict and disprove what they knew to be salse—Nay, what is more surprizing still, all of these, even the greatest Enemies of Christianity among them, have not oniy allowed, bnt actually asserted the Truth of these Facts; which, upon this Suppofal, they might have so easily disproved, to the utter Ruin of the Christian Cause. And,~ to crown all, there can be no Motive in the World imagined, to put any of them upon acknowledging such notorious and abominable Falshoods.— — As I know, on the one Hand, that you cannot swallow such grofs Absurdities as these; Ci I also know on the other Hand, that you have no Way to avoid them, upon the Supposition before us.
It may be surther observed, that if the Reporters of these Miracles did themselves know, that their Narratives were fictitious and salse, it will also follow, that the most vile and wicked Men that ever were in the World, and the most abandoned to all Sense of Virtue and Piety, did draw up the best System of practical Religion, the mpH worthy of God and Man that ever was known; that they, contrary to their inwasd Principles, set the best Examples, and walked according to the Rules of this Religion themselves; yea, without any known Motive, spent their whole Lives in a continued Course of the greatest Toil, Fatigue and Misery, that ever Men did, to promote this Religion, to impress it upon the Minds of others, and to teach them, according to it, to live in the Love and Fear of God. It will also follow, that these Enemies of God and Godliness (who were so prosane, as against their own Light to propagate this Imposture, in the Name of God Almighty) did not only give up the Hopes of suture Happiness, but all the Comforts of this Life also, in Vindica
thn of this known Faljhood; that to thi« End they ventured upon every Thing that is most terrible and assrightning to hnman Nature, and even upon the most cruel and barbarous Death, without the least possible Hopes of Advantage, either in this World or that to come.—For they did know, and could not but know, that they were going themselves, and leading their Followers, upon the Pikes of their numerous and potent Adversaries, without any Prospect beyond the Grave (upon the Supposition before us) but of eternal Diminution And what still
increases the Absurdity of this Supposition is, that not one of these ever retracted this known Falshood, even in the Article of DeJth; but boldy encountered the most shamesul and painsul Death their Adversaries could inflict, rather than consess the Truth.— v\ hat, Sir. can you possibly im.igine of such Conduct as this ?—I hat these Men were not mad and distracted appears evidently by their Works; which, though plain and samiliar, were the most consistent, divine, and rational, that ever appeared in the World.— Here must therefore be a continued Scene os Miracles, one Way or other. It mult at least be allowed miraculous, for so many Men, knowingly and continually, to act indirect Opposition to all their Interests, Comforts and Hopes, and run counter to all the Principles of Humanity, to all the Springs of Action that were ever known among Men.
Let us now try the second Suppo fa], and enquire, whether 'tis possible, that theReporters of thescFacts, and all other Spectators of them, had their Senses impofed upon, by any legerdemain Trick, Juggle or Deceit ?—Whether, for Instance, the Scnles of the Apostles were impofed upon for some Years together, while there were daily Miracles wrought by their Master before their Eyes? Whether the
Senses of whole Multitudes were impofed upon, that they really thought they saw the Sick healed, the Deid raised, &c. and these T hings repeated again and again for a long Tract of Time, when there was indeed nothing at all in it ?—W hether the Witnesses of our Lord's Resurrection were imposed upon, when they suppofed they saw him aster his Death, eat and drank, and conversed samiliarly with him for forty Days together, and beheld him taken up to Heaven before their Eyes ?— \nd whether all the sirst Churches were impofed upon, when they imagined that they saw Miracles repeatedly wrought among them, and had themselves miraculous Gifts and Powers ?—If these extravagant Suppofitions are allowed, of what Service can our Senses be to us, and how can we any Way be certain of any Thing whatsoever ?—We may as reasonably imagine, that our wnole Life has been one continued Dream, and that in Reality we never saw, heard, selt, thought, spake, or acted anyThing at all.—Here likewise you must necessarily allow a continued Course of Miracles, one Way or other. At least it must be allowed miraculous, that so great a Part of the World should all lofe their Senses together, and yet all of them imagined, that they had all this Time their Senses in their sull Exercise.
Let us next consider, whether the last of the Suppositions, that the whole History of the Miracles, wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and hisApostles, was an After-Game, a mere Piece of Forgery, obtruded upon the World in some distant Time, aster the Facts were pretended to be done, will appear more reasonable than the others already considered.'
I have spoken something to this in my second Letter, to which I reser you } and shall now only