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O/* the Truth and Authority of the
EFORE we enter upon the Examination of what we principally intend in this Work, it may not be improper to premise something concerning the Writings of the Sacred Penmen, and of those more especially, Who have recorded the Life and Actions B of
of our Blessed Saviour. The generality of Christians have always look'd upon them, as ib many hone ft and undesigning 'Men, who have given us a slain, but rational Account of our Saviour's Doctrine and Miracles; and in doing this, were assisted by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, and, consequently, could not run into Errors, much leis be guilty of wilful Lying, and barefac'd ImThe Ar.- postures. V But the History of Jesus,
rlffsob "as ^ *s recorc^e^ ^y tne Evangelists, jcaioii. "and commonly believ'd by Christians, . "(lay some modern dntifcrifturifts,) is "ib improbable in itself, and, when "thoroughly examin'd, full of iiich In"credibilities and gross absurdities, as "are quite dishonourable to the Name "of Chrift. The Evangelifts, no doubt, "were, on all occasions, liberal enough tl of their Master's Praise, and apt to say "more to his Honour, than was strictly "true; but in the matter of his work"ing Miracles, they seem to endea"vour to outstretch one another. Mat"thew indeed is a little sparing and "modest in his Romance \ but Luke, "perceiving the Insufficiency of his "Tale, devises a Miracle of a bigger "Size: And yet, this being thought in« sufficient still, St. John, (rather than « his Prophet's Honour should fail for
"want "want of his Assistance,) forges a mon"Jlrou/ly huge one; as if he were mind** ed to palm upon his Readers an im** probable Tale of senseless Circum"stances, and to bambouzle Mankind "into a Belief of the grossest Jbsurdi"ties. For indeed they do not endea"vour so much as to lye with a Grace, u nor take they any Pains to make their u Stories hang together; which are ge"nerally such Jilly, nonsensical, and un"philosophical Stuff, as would make one a believe, cither they forgot themselves, "or blunder'd egregioufly; or put a "Banter upon uSj to try how far their "absurd Tales would pals upon the "World with Credit. The Truth is, "the Stories of Christ's Miracles, and u other Transactions of his Life, are so "blindly, and lamely, and imperfectly re"ported, that Infidels (if they wanted "not Liberty) would certainly expose "them facetiously; as indeed there is "no need of much Wit to make them "nauseous and ridiculous to the mean-1 "est Understandings. The best that a can be said of them^ (in their literal u Acceptation,) is*,that they are like Gul"liverian Tales of Persons and Things, "which, out of the Romance, never had "any Being; and this, added to the "dijlance of Time, wherein they are B a "supposed "supposed to have been written, and
"the Condition of the Writers, who
"were all the Friends and Followers of
"yefus-> xs enough to make every pru
"dent Reader inquisitive into their Au
"thoritj, and very cautious in what
"Sense it is, that he receives them.
TheOi- We acknowledge indeed, that, at jrttionan j^jg distance of Time, we are under
by iiistan- lome Disadvantages to prove the Truth ring in of Matters of FaB, not only because we Anchors are f°rced many times to make use of whose 'the Testimony of our own Authors, Writings (which may look somewhat liifpicious,) iTcve! but because it is allowed, that, in all Ages, there has been abundance of fictitious Writers, which may endanger the Credit of the true. But when it is considered, that, notwithstanding these Impediments, there are several Histories in the World, which, merely upon their own cseJiimonyi have obtained a good Repute, and the Fafts related therein a general Credit and Belief; we cannot but think, \hsx sacred Writers are entitled to the lame privilege, and that, to deny Moses and the Evangelists the Favour, which we are so ready to grant to Casary or Livy, or any other profane Historian, is very partial and unbecoming Treatment.