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On the Evidences of Christianity.

John III. 2.
Rabbi, we know, that thou art a Teacher,

come from God: For no Man can do these
Miracles, that thou doest, except God be
with him.


Have already proved in a former Dif- Serm. II. course, that Miracles may be so cir

cumstanced, as to be direct and decisive Evidences of a divine Power and Commiffion. That it was absolutely impossible the Apostles should be deceived themselves, as Witnesses of our Saviour's Miracles and their own. That it was morally impor


Serm. II. fible they should attempt to deceive others,

The Subject of my present Discourse is to prove, that the Apostles could not have deceived Mankind, if they would ; nor have imposed a false Religion upon the World, by virtue of a pretended Commisfion from Heaven.

If the Christian Religion, containing Doctrines unpalatable to Flesh and Blood, void of every Advantage, besides its own internal Excellency, to recommend it, and clogged with a great many Incumbrances, could carry Conviction with it from East to West, by such incompetent Instruments, in so sport a Time, in spite of the most resolved Opposition: If this Plant, from a Jender Appearance at first, grew, and waxed a great Tree, when no kindly Sunshine of worldly Power yet smiled upon it ; nay, when the Inclemency of the Season beat hard against it; the Growth of it was undoubtedly marvellous. It is granted, that in Matters of

pure Speculation, the Bulk of Mankind may be, and often are, deceived; because they have not Leisure or Capacity, to unravel studied Sophistry, and nicely to distinguish between what is plausible, and what is solid and

substantial :

If they

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fubftantial: But the Case is different as to Serm. II, Miracles, which are Matters of Fact, that fall under the Cognizance of our Senses. Here the Vulgar and the Learned are equally competent Judges, and you can persuade neither of them to believe he sees a glaring Fact, which he does not actually behold. Either then the Apostles wrought such Matters of Fact; or they did not. did, then they were invested with a Power from God: For evil Spirits would not, if they could, empower them to beat down Idolatry: If they did not, then it is unaccountable, how a Set of Fishermen, despised for their Poverty, and odious upon the account of their Nation, should propagate through many Nations, not to say the whole known World, such an unlikely Story as this, viz. That one, who was crucified as a common Malefactor in Judæa, was to be adored as a God; and that too at such a Juncture of Time, when their numerous Converts in several Parts of the World, some of whom were Men of known Distinction and Opulency, (such as Dionysus of the Areopagus, Foseph of the Jewish Sanhedrim, Sergius Paulus a Proconsul, Flavius Clemens a Roman Consul,


Serm. II. &c.) who had, very probably, enjoyed onę

continued Sunshine of Prosperity; must bid adieu to all the Blandishments of Life, undergo, whatever is distasteful to human Nature, and either suffer, or be in danger of suffering Martyrdom.

I would gladly have the Deists try the Experiment: Let them send the ableft they can single out of their numerous Fraternity to broach such a like Story: For Instance, that one, who suffered in England for a Malefactor, is risen from the Dead, and is to be worshipped as the Saviour of Mankind: Let them send them to Portugal or Spain, where the Inquisition reigns, and where as exquisite Tortures will be applied to them, as were to the primitive Martyrs. It is easy to fee the Consequence : They themselves would meet with a very warm Reception; but their Doctrine with a very cold one : Both would be involved in the fame Doom, both perish and come to nought. If then the Apostles had not a Power of working genuine Miracles, and displaying the amplest Credentials of divine Power ; it will be the greatest Miracle of all, that without either Riches to bribe, Authority to awe, or acquired Knowledge


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and Dexterity to over-reach Men into a Serm. II. Compliance with their Notions, they should pave the Way to so general and great a Turn in religious Affairs; when these boasted Masters of Reason, the Deifts, these Men of large Views, who by an uncommon Superiority of Soul have disengaged themselves from the Prejudices of Education, would not be able to bring over a Majority of Men, nay, perhaps, not one Man of common Sense in any one Nation if they should set on foot such another unpromising Project.

Let us suppose, that a Person in our Days should embark in a Design of cancelling all the old Religions, and building a new one upon their Ruins; that, to compass this Design, he pretended to raise the Dead, make the Blind see, the Lame walk, the Deaf hear, &c. that not long after his Death, his Followers publish a punctual circumstantial Relation of all these Things, mentioning the Places where, the Persons upon whom, the Witnesses before whom, these Miracles were said to be wrought: Let us put the Cafe, that they too pretended to have the same miraculous Powers vested in them, and that their Doctrine gained


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