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Serm. never be Proof against the Thing itself; ft ^ • can never be Proof against a Matter of Fact.
^^i^ 'Tis but to apply the Argument to something of a like Nature, and we shall easily see the Absurdity of it. We can't, for Example, answer all the Difficulties that may be started about Gravitation, the Attraction of the Loadstone, S>c. What then? Is there therefore no such Thing at all? No, we can't fay so, because we know there is. And this may be carried through all the other Mysteries of Nature, which we hardly know any thing of, and yet believe to be true. We ought therefore to answer all the Difficulties in one Case before we start any in another; or shew why the fame kind of Evidence should not have a Right to our Assent in bothCases. We are here to judge of what we do know, and not of what we do notv The Truth or Falsity of this Matter depends upon the Fact: If it be not true, then there is no Need to talk of Difficulties; if it be true, which will appear by the Evidence, then the Fact which we do know ought to have greater Weight with us than theDifficulties which we do not know. I don't lay this, as if Objections of this Kind were not to be answer'd; for, as I have already observ'd, 'tis easily done; but because common
mon People are not so good Judges of these Serm. Things as they are of Matters of Fact: And .J; X, therefore they should not leave a necessary convincing Argument for what is not so necessary nor ib much to the Purpose. This will bring the Thing into a narrow Compass, and upon this Foot there will be no Need of any other Method to silence the Jew, than only to demand greater Proof than Testimony that Daniel was in the Lions Den and not devour'd; or that Elijha made Iron to swim, contrary to the Nature of it. Neither will there be Need of any other Method to confute the Gentile, than only to demand greater Proof than bare Testimony, that there were ever such Men as Alexander or Cæsar, if they reject such kind of Proof themselves.
But I proceed now to shew what Evidence we have for this Fact. And here, as it is a Matter of the greatest Importance, so we have a prodigious Number of Witnesses more than was ever required by any Law, to prove any Fact whatsoever. And, first, we have the Testimony of the Disciples towhom he appear'd as they were going to Emmaus; of Mary Magdalen, by whom he was seen as she stood at the Sepulchre weeping, and also of Mary the Mother of James. We
Serm. have likewise the Testimony of the eleveti * • Apostles, to whom he appear'd as they were ' . assembled together for fear of the Jeivs> and others with them; then we are assured he was seen at another Time by above five hundred at once. We have also the Testimony of Angels, who faid to the Women that came to the Sepulchre to seek the Lord, Why seek ye the Living among the Dead i He is not here, but is risen. And we have one very extraordinary Evidence) which is that of God himself, who confirm'd the Truth of this Fact by giving the Apostles, who were more immediately set apart to give Testimony of it, a Power of working Miracles. But, besides all this, we have the Witness of Enemies also, so far as to prove that he was actually dead and laid in the Sepulchre, and was, after the scaling the Stone and setting a Watch, actually gone out of it again. This was acknowledge by the Jews themselves. And we have the Evidence of St. Tau/3 who was at that Time a great Enemy and a Persecutor, and was converted himself by our Lord, as he was in his Way to Damascus, in order to carry on his Persecution.
Here then is the Evidence fairly laid before you. Let us now fee whether these
Witnesses have the proper Qualinvations Serm. necessary for Evidences in this Case; And L^, in order to that, let us examine what Qualifications are necessary in Affairs of this Nature. Now in all Matters of Fact, and more especially in this, 'tis necessary that the Witnesses should have so much Knowledge as to understand when they see or hear a Thing, ^c. 'Tis necessary also that the Witnesses ihould give Testimony according to their own Knowledge, as Eye-Witnesses, or Ear-Witnesses, according to the Nature of the Fact; and then 'tis farther necessary that they be Persons of Sincerity, in order to give a faithful Relation of what they know. Now that the Apostles, who were more immediately set apart to testify this Fact, had this first Qualification, /. e. had Knowledge enough for a Thing of this Nature, is plain, because the Jews themselves never objected their Want of it. They look'd upon them.indeed as ignorant Men; hy which they did not mean that they were void of all Understanding (as is plain from the original Word) but that they were Men of no Learning, which was not,all necessary to testify a plain Matter of Fact. A Man may not be a Scholar, and yet he may have commonSense j he may not be aPhilosopher, M a and
Serm. and j£ he may know, what he hears or V. fees. But how indifferently soever the Jews ^T-~> might think of them, yet those • that have argued their Cause for them, of late, have made Amends for that by supposing them to be crafty, designing Men. That they had the second Qualification, and gave Testimony according to Knowledge, is plain from hence, that their very Enemies, whose Business it was, and who undoubtedly did look into their Lives, and would certainly have detected them, had they been guilty of any Crimes, did not lay the least Immorality to their Charge. The Hope and Resurrection of the Dead they might be accused of, but for any thing else, we fad no Charge against them. Nay, St fd when he was brought before Felix, in his excellent Speech that he made in his own Defence, challenges his Accusers to object, if they had ought against him, except it were for this one Voice, that he cried standing among them, Concerning theft. furretfion of the. Dead I am accused by f this Day. The Silence of their Adverse* then in a Case, where there is no Probability that they would have been silent, «rt they have accus'd them of any thing;"
strong Argument that they did not