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may be so far blinded in his Understanding, as to reject all the possible Means of his Reformation ; nay, even upon the Supposition, that some departed Friend of his should appear to him from the Dead in order to reclaim him; yet, such may his Perverseness be, as to make no serious Reflection up-. on this important Event, but, on the contrary, fortify himself in Wickedness, by supposing that the Apparition was but an idle Dream, the Sport of a wanton Imagination, or the Effect of some melancholy Mood, and, 10 drive out the Thoughts of it, return to his lewd and licentious Courses again. But what, Affinity has this to a Man's pretending to come with a Commission from Heaven, in order to establish a new Religion, and (to justify his Pretences) curing all Diseases in an Instant, removing all natural Defects, with a Touch, and even raising the Dead to Life again with a Word speaking ? & Can the Ethiopian change bis Skin, or the Leopard his Spots ? Is the Case of the one: Can God countenance a Lye, or communicate his Power to an Impostor? Is the Case of the other.
8 Jer. xiii. 23.
The dif- We allow indeed, that the first Preaferent chers of the Gospel made wfe of the Prothe Apo- phesies of the Old Teftament in order to fles ap- convert Men to the Christian Religion : plying to the fews
S But then it is to be obsery'd, that the and Gina Converts, to whom they made this Aptiles.
plication, were Jews, who believ'd the Divine Authority of the Prophets, and not Gentiles, who had no such Persuafion. * Thus St. Paul, in his Discourse with the Yews at Antioch, begins with the Call of Abraham, and, after a short historical Deduction of Matters from thence to the Time of David, he adds, h Of this Man's Seed hath God, according to his Promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour Jefus : Where we may plainly perceive, that the Apostle's whole Argument rests upon the Authority of the Prophets; whereas the fame St. Paul, preaching to the People of Athens, argues from quite different Topicks. He says not one Word of the Prophets, to whose Mission and Authority the Athenians were perfect Strangers, but begins with declaring to them i God, who made the World and all things there
n; than goes on condemning all idolatrous Pra&ices, and assuring them that God is not worshipped with Mens Hands, as though he needed any Thing ; next accounts for the Times of Ignorance, at which God winked ; and so tells them at last, that God now expects every Man to repent, having appointed Jesús Christ to be the Judge of all Men; and, for the Proof of this, he appeals to the Truth of Christ's Résurrection, whereof he hath given Assurance, says he, unto all Men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead. Now, why the Apoftle's Argument upon one and the fame Subject, in. Afts xiii. and xvii, should be so widely different, the only true Reason, that can be given, is, the different Circumstances of thé Persons, to whom he deliver'd himself. In Acts xiïi, he argues professedly with Yews, to whom were committed the Oracles of God, and who, from these Oracles, were well instructed in the Marks and Characters of the Messiah. It had been highly absurd therefore to reason with them upon other Arguments, till he had first convinc'd them by their Prophets, and, having so convinc'd them, it would have been impertinent. Tó them therefore he urges and applies the Authority of the Prophets only. But to the Athenians, who knew not the Prophets, or, if they knew them, had no Veneration for them, it had been
* The Use and Intent of Prophecy. "A&t xiji, 23. ' Afts xvii. 34, Eco
quite ridiculous to offer Proofs from Prophecy; and therefore he chuses rather to appeal to the principles of natu: fal Religion, and to the Miracles of the Gospel, the Fame of which had probably, long before, reached to Athens, and the Truth of whichi (they being mere Matters of Fact) was capable of undeniable Evidence and Demonstra
tion. Why St. * St. Paul indeed, in his Defence both St. Peter 1 before Felix and m Agrippa, appeals to might the Law and the Prophets ; and St. Pequote the fom in his Di får Prophers
be ter in his Discourse n before Cornelius, before urges their Testimony in Confirmation the Gen- of Christ's Divine Mission. But, when
we consider, in St. Paul's Cafe, that
kvid. Grounds and Reasons, p. 80,96. "A&s xiv. * Aas xvi. Ass X.
are any tolerable Exception to the general Rule, which the Apostles had, of applying the Testimony of the Prophets to their Jewish Converts only; and (which I may add) of applying them in their obvious and literal, not any remote or mystical Sense. For had they applied them in And that this manner, how can we imagine, o that they ususuch a Number of Fews of all De
ICES; plied Rulers, Priests, and Scribes of all Sects, them in Men of Learning, and who, by their their
plain and Profession and Station, were oblig'd to obvious know the Scriptures, should forsake the Sense Religion they were accustom’d to, up- only. on the Authority of Passages, which, in their plain Meaning, were so far from countenancing, that they openly confronted the new Religion they were to embrace, without any View of worldly Interest, with the certain hazard of their Lives here, and the loss of God's Favour hereafter, in Case of Infincerity.
Fancy what we will of the Weakness, or Enthusiasm of those, who set about converting the Jews in the Method of impertinent Citations; their Weakness could not make their Proofs strong, nor infuse Credulity into Men i perfectly qualified to judge, as having
.. • Bp. Chandler's Defence of Christianity.
? Grouuds and Reasons, po 39.