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all the pains and terrors of death. And you alfo may know, that this Gospel is the Gospel of Christ, and confequently that thefe wonderful effećts, which fo apparently carry a divine fignature upon them, are produced by him. All thefe things, and others of a like nature which might be mentioned, are immediately open to your view, most vifible and certain ; and one would think, that thefe alone would fatisfy the mind of a ferious and impartial enquirer into the truth of Christianity. And efpecially when thefe are accompanied with fuch other credentials of our holy religion, which (though not fo direćtly in view, yet) by necessary confequencë, give us the fame affurance and certainty of the truth. But it’s time I ihould come more direćtly to anfwer the objećtion ; and to fhew you, how it may by neces: fary confequence be known, that the faćts upon which Christianity principally depends, are certainly true. You yourself muft own, it’s impossible that those doĉtrines can be falfe, which are attelted by fo many, and fuch kind of miracles, as are faid to be wrought by our Lord Jefus Christ and his apoftles. For God cannot fet his feal to a lie; nor confirm a horrible imposture by his immediate attestation from heaven. You must own, that it’s impoffible for the apostles and other witneffes of thefe miraculous operations, to be themfelves deceived, while they had all the means of certainty in the cafe before us, that ever any man had in any cafe whatsoever." - You must likewife own, that it's impofible for agreat number of fober, judicious, and apparently honeft men, tɔ fpend their lives in a continued conspiracy against their own eafe, comfort, honour, life, and eternal welfare, for no other motive but to deceive the world ; and bring eternal ruin upon themfelves and their fellowcreatures ; as these must have done, if they knew thofe. faćts to be falfe which they publish’d at their peril, audi fealed with their blood. . . You mult also own that it was impoffible to deceive the world about them, at the time when thefe fasts were
dones by reporting, that fuch miraculous operations
were openly perform’d before them all; which none of them knew any thing about. You wilt certainly own, it’s impossible that they could deceive the churches to whom they wrote, by vain pretences, that each one of thefe had themfelves the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, fuch as tongues, miracles, healing, prophecy, and the like, when every one of them knew that there was nothing in it. You muft in like manner own it impoffible for fuch multitudes of people, for fo long a traćt of time, to be impofed upon by pretences of miraculous operations ; and none of them ever detećt the impoflure, fo much asin one fingle instance, while all of them had the opportunity of doing it when they pleafed, if the faćts had not been true. - Can you imagine it any ways possible, that fuch multitudes in the first ages of Christianity, in fuch distant countries and nations, should confpire together to acknowledge thefe faćts, and the doćtrines founded on them, at the peril of their lives; and no ruan among thefe: profeffors themselves, or among the heretics, and apoftates that fell away from them, should discover the fraud, aither living or dying? You will certainly own it utterly impossible, that fomany thousands, in fo many lands, could with joy and chearfulnefs fubmit to fuch poor and afflićted lives, and to fuch cruel and barbarous deaths, as were the comnion lot ofthe first Christians, in confirmation of a religion, founded upon facts which they knew to be falíe. And you must acknowledge it also altogether impoffible, at any time after theie faċts were pretended to be done, to palm the history of them upon the world, if it was false; and to perswade fo many nations to receive it for truth. It were impossible to perswade any. nations, and much more all the early nations of Chuif-, tendom, that at foaie distant forgotten age there were a. number of men that came among them, taught them. the doctrines of Christianity, çonfirm’d the fame by miracles, baptiz’d them into the faith ; and established a, fettled order of the ministry in their churches.: from which time, they have all of them profeiled the Christ:
tian faith; had the New Testament in their hands; and enjoy’d’ a continued succession of ministers and ordinauces. Let an attempt of this kind be made upon our Indians, and try, if any one man among them can be impos’d upon to believe thefe things. To this I may add, that it is absolutely impossible, at any one time, to have obtruded the infpired writings upon the world, if they were indeed fpurious ; and to have made all the Christian nations believe, that thefe were written in the apostolic age, fpeedily translated into divers languages, publickly kept, and publickly read and preached in their churches ; that they and their fathers before them had always reverenced and eíteemed them as the rule of their lives ; and their guide to eternal happinefs. What fuccess, but fcorn and derifion, could be hoped for from fuch an attempt ? I may once more subjcin to all this, that it is at leaft highly improbable, that the early writers against Chriftianity should never deny thefe faćts, if they were not notoriously true, when they could not want advantages to detećt any fraud or deceit, that can poffibly be fupposed in a cafe of this kind. And it is yet more improbable, that any of the adverfaries of Christianity should confirm the truth of thefe faćts, as we find fome of them. do, if they had not been most apparently and undoubtedly true. And now, Sir, what can be wanting, what can you demand or defire more, to confirm you in the faith of Christianity? It is established upon the veracity of God hinnfelf; upon those facts, by which he has from heaven attested to the truth of it ; and thefe faćts are vertfied by evidences, which cannot possibly deceive us. By believing therefore, we fet to our feal that God is. true : But he that believeth not, maketh him a lyar : becaufe he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. |- * You may perhaps tell me, that if you had feen thefe. miracles yourself, you would have believed them. But ban’t every body elfe the fame claim to this fort of fatis-. . faćtion as you ; and the fame reafon to defire, to be eye, and carovincies of such miraculous operations? At
this rate, miracles would ceafe to be miraculous, they would become-common and familiar things; and no longer strike the mind with any convićtion at all, any more than the ebbing and flowing of the fea, the rifing and fetting of the fun ; or any other fuch difplays of the divine power, in the common course of providence.
Upon the whole, there is no evidence wanting, tơ. leave the believer inexcusable. There is evidence every way fufficient, to fatisfy the mind of an impartial enquirer after truth. And it is impossible for any man in the world to imagine any means of confirmation in this important truth, fuperior to what is herein fet before you. How unreafonable would it theręfore be, to require more evidence in a cafe, wherein we have already as much as we are poffibly capable to receive ? That it may be effećtuał to establish you in the faith, is and íhall be the prayer of,
S 1 R,
LETT E R III, Wherein an historical Account
of the BIRTH, LIFE, PA ssioN, RESURREcarioN, AscEN SION, and future KING DoM of our blessed S.Aviot R, is collećied from the Prophecies of the Old Testament.
S I R, Rejoice to hear from you, that any endeavours of mine have contributed in the leaft towards your fati:faćtion. I am thereby the more encouraged to hope, that your remaining difficulties may eafiły be obviated ; and particularly, that it will not prove difficult to anfwer your prefent demand ; to fhew you o how you may cer* tainly know that the prophecies of the Old Tefta* ment had a direćt reference unto Jesus Christ.” You may know this by the exaćt accommodation of the predićtion with the event. That this therefore may be fet before you in a proper light, I will endeavour to: give you (in the form of an history) a brief representation of our blefied Saviour, gather'd from the Old Testas
collected from the Old Testament. 2. I
ment; and leave you to compare this with the narrative of him in the nêw. If thefe agree, you thereby have a certain difcovery of the divine original of thefe prophecies; fince none but an omnifcient mind could possibly forefee thefe events. And you have likewife the fame certainty, that Jesus Chrift is the predićted Mefiah, and that his mission is divine, fince what was foretold of the Mesfiah in the prophecy, is fulfilled in him. The time of the manifestation of this glorious perfon, whom I am now to defcribe, was during the continuance of the Kingdom of Judah, while a fcepter was in the hand, and a lawgiver came from between the feet of that tribe, Gen. xlix, 1o. while the fecond temple was yet standing, Mal. iii. 1. Hag. ii. 7. just 45 o Chaldee years after the decree went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem, which was in the twentieth year of Artexerxes Longimanus, king of Perfia, Dan. ix. 25. * This king likewife çame into the world, and the God of heaven fet up his everlasting kingdom, at that feafon of the fourth or Roman monarchy, Dan. ii. 44, when there was an end put to the dreadful shaking of the heavens and the earth, the fea, and the dry land, and indeed of all nations, by the wars of Alexander the Great, the four kingdoms that arose out of his conquests; and the Romans the conquerors of them all ; and when peace was restored to the world, Hag. ii. 6, 7, 9, which hap}: when Augustus Cæsar was emperor of Rome, and ei od the Great was king of Judea. As to the pedigree or defcent of our blefsed Saviour, it muft be confider'd with respećt to the two different natures, that were united in this glorious perfon. For how wonderful foever it may appear to us, the man Chrift Jesus was alfo Immanuel, God with us, Ifa. vii. 14. and that divine Child which was born, and that Son which was given to us (at the time before defcrib