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cordingly they have continued by regular succession to this day; and, no doubt, ever will, while the earth shall last. So that the Christian clergy are as notorious a matter of fact, as the tribe of Levi among the Jews. And the Gospel is as much a law to Christians, as the book of MOSES to the Jews; and it being part of the matters of fact, related in the Gospel, that such an order of men were appointed by CHRIST, and to continue to the end of the world; consequently, if the Gospel were a fiction, and invented some ages after CHRIST; then at that time, when it was first invented, there could be no such order of clergy, as derived themselves from the institution of CHRIST; which must give the lye to the Gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false. And the matters of fact of CHRIST being pressed to be true no otherwise, than as there was at that time (whenever the Deists will suppose the Gospel to be forged) not only public sacraments of CHRIST's institution, but an order of clergy likewise of his appointment to administer them; and it being impossible, there could be any such things before they were invented; it is as impossible, that they should be received, when invented. Therefore, by what is said above, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this inatter, by inventing it in after ages, as at the time, when those things were said to be done.
3. The matters of fact of Mahomet, or what is fabled of the deities, do all want some of the aforesaid four rules, whereby the certainty of
matters of fact is demonstrated. First, for Mahomet pretended to no miracles, as he tells us in his Alcoran; and those, which are commonly told of him, pass among Mahometans themselves, as legendary fables; and, as such, are rejected by the wise and learned among them; as the legends of saints are in the church of Rome. See Dr. Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, page 34.
But, in the next place, those, which are told of him, do all want the two first rules before mentioned. For his pretended converse with the moon; his mersa, or night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to Heaven, &c. were not performed before any body. We have only his own word for them; and they are as groundless, as the delusions of Fox or Muggleton among ourselves.
The same is to be said (in the second place) of the fables of the Heathen gods, of Mercury's stealing sheep, Jupiter's turning himself into a bull, and the like; beside the folly and unworthiness of such senseless pretended miracles. Moreover the wise among the heathen did reckon no otherwise of these, than as fables, which had a mythology, or mystical meaning in them, of which several of them have given us the rationale or explication; and it is plain enough, that Ovid meant no other by all his metamorphoses.
It is true, the heathen deities had their priests; they had likewise their feasts, games, and other public institutions in memory of them.
But all these want the fourth mark, viz. that such priesthood and institutions commenced from the time, when such things, as they commemorate, were said to be done; otherwise they cannot secure after ages from imposture, by detecting it at the time, when first invented, as hath been argued before. But the Bacchanalia, and other heathen feasts, were instituted many ages after, what was reported of these gods, was said to be done; and therefore can be no proof of them. And the priests of Bacchus, Appollo, &c. were not ordained by these supposed gods; but were appointed by others, in after ages, only in honor to them. Therefore these orders of priests are no evidence of the facts, which are reported of their gods..
IV. Now, to apply what has been said;; you may challenge all the Deists in the world to show any action, that is fabulous, which has all the four rules or marks before mentioned. No, it is impossible; and (to resume a little, what was said before) the histories of Exodus and the Gospel never could have been. received, if they had not been true; because the institution of the priesthood of Levi and of CHRIST; of the Sabbath, of the Passover, of Circumcision, of Baptism, and of the Lord's Supper, &c. are there related, as descending all the down from those times without interrupway tion. Moreover it is as impossible to persuade men, that they had been circumcised or baptized, had circumcised or baptized their child. ren, celebrated passovers, sabbaths, sacraments,
&c. under the administration of a certain order of priests, if they had done none of these things, as to make them believe that they had gone through seas upon dry land, seen the dead raised, &c; and without believing these it was impossible, that either the law, or the gospel, could have been received.
The truth of the matters of fact of Exodus and the Gospel being no otherwise pressed upon men, than as they have practised such public institutions, it is appealing to the senses of mankind for the truth of them; and makes it impossible for any to have invented such stories in after ages, without a palpable detection of the cheat, when first invented; as impossible, as to have imposed upon the senses of mankind at the time, when such public facts were said to be done.
V. I do not say that every thing, which wants these four marks, is false; but that nothing can be false, which has them all. I have no doubt, that there was such a man, as Julius Cæsar, that he fought at Pharsalia, was killed in the senate house, with many other facts of ancient times, though we keep no public observances in memory of them.
But this shows that the matters of fact of MOSES and of CHRIST have come down to us better guarded, than any other facts, how true
Yet our Deists, who would laugh any man out of the world, as an irrational brute, who should offer to deny Cæsar or Alexander,
Homer or Virgil, their public works and actions, do at the same time value themselves, as the only men of sense, of free, generous, and unbiassed judgments, for ridiculing the histories of MOSES and CHRIST, that are infinitely better attested, and guarded by infallible marks, which the others want.
VI. Beside that, the importance of the subject would oblige all men to inquire mare narrowly into the one, than into the other; for what consequence is it to me, or to the world, whether there was such a man as Cæsar, whether he beat, or was beaten at Pharsalia, whether Homer or Virgil wrote such books, and whether, what is related in the Iliad or Æneid, be true or false? It is not two pence up or down to any man in the world; and therefore it is worth no man's while to inquire into it, either to oppose or justify the truth of these relations.
But our very souls and bodies, both this life and eternity, are concerned in the truth of what is related in the holy scriptures; and therefore men should be more inquisitive to search into the truth of these, than of any other facts; to examine and sift them narrowly, and to find out the deceit, if any such can be found; for it concerns them nearly, and is of the last importance to them.
How unreasonable then is it to reject these facts, so sifted, so examined, and so attested, as no other facts in the world ever were; and yet to think it the most highly unreasonable,