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tainly know, that they saw no miracles wrought by them in confirmation of their mission; that they never had, nor knew any thing about those mi. raculous gifts, which were said to be fo common among
them. And yet that all these confpired in the deceit, (Jews as well as Gentiles), to the utter subversion of the religion in which they had been educated ; and multitudes of them, at the expence of their honours, estates, and lives, not one person among them all appearing to detect the villainy; the Jews tamely subinitting to the loss of their religion, and to the imputation of the blackest crime that ever was committed ; and the Christian churches as tamely submitting to all that is thocking and terrible to nature, rather than contradict and disprove what they knew to be false.-Nay, what is more surprising still, all of these, even the greatest enemies of Christianity among them, have not only allowed, but actually asserted the truth of these facts; which, upon this supposal, they might have so easily disproved, to the utter ruin of the Christian cause. And, to crown all, there can be no motive in the world imagined, to put any of them upon acknowled. ging such notorious and abominable falsehoods. As. I know, on the one hand, that you cannot fwallow such grofs absurdities as these ; fo I also know on the other hand, that you have no way to avoid them, upon the supposition before us.
It may be further observed, that if the reporters of these miracles did themselves know, that their narratives were fictitious and false, it will also fol. low, that the most vile and wicked men that ever were in the world, and the most abandoned to all: sense of virtue and piety, did draw up the best System of practical religion, the most worthy of God and, man that ever was known; that they,
contrary to their inward principles, set the best examples, and walked according to the rules of this religion themselves; yea, without any known motive, spent their whole lives in a continued course of the greatest toil, fatigue and misery, that ever men did, to promote this religion, to impress it upon the minds of others, and to teach them, according to it, to live in the love and fear of God. - It will also follow, that these ene. mies of God and godliness (who were so pro. fane, as against their own light to propagate this impofture, in the name of God Almighty) did not only give up the hopes of future happiness, but all the comforts of this life also, in vindication of this known falsehood; that to this end they ventured upon every thing that is most terrible and affrightening to human nature, and even upon the most cruel and barbarous death, without the least poffible hopes of advantage, either in this world or that to come.--For they did know, and could not but know, that they were going themselves, and leading their followers, upon the pikes of their numerous and potent adversaries, without any pro. Spect beyond the grave, (upon the supposition before us), but of eternal damnation. ---And what still increases the absurdity of this fupposition is, that not one of these ever retracted this known falsehood, even in the article of death ; but boldly en. countered the moft Thameful and painful death their adversaries- could inflict, rather than confess the truth.-What, Sir, can you possibly imagine of such conduct as this? That these men were not mad and distracted, appears evidently by their works ; which, though plain and familiar, were the most consistent, divine, and rational, that ever appeared in the world.--Here must therefore be a continued scene of miracles, one way or other.
It must at least be allowed miraculous, for so maný men knowingly and continually, to act in direct opposition to all their interests, comforts and hopes, and run counter to all the principles of humanity, to all the springs of action that were ever known among inen.
Let us now try the fecond fuppofal, and inquire, whether it is possible, that the reporters of these facts, and all other spectators of them, had their Senses imposed upon, by any legerdemain trick, juggle or deceit? - Whether, for instance, the senses of the Apostles were imposed upon for some years together, while there were daily miracles wrought by their Master before their eyes? Whether the senses of whole multitudes were imposed upon, that they really thought they saw the sick healed, the dead raised, &c. and these things repeated again and again for a long tract of time, when there was indeed nothing at all in it. Whether the witnesses of our Lord's resurrection were imposed upon, when they fupposed they saw him after his death, eat and drink, and conversed familiarly with him fur forty days together, and beheld him taken up tu heaven before their eyes ?-And whether all the first churches were imposed upon, when they imagined that they saw miracles repeatedly wrought among them, and had themselves miracui. lous gifts and powers ?-If these extravagant soppositions are allowed, of what service can our sen. fes be to us, and how can we any way be certain of any thing whatsoever?. We may as reasonably imagine, that our whole life has been one continued dreain, and that in reality we never saw, heard, felt, thought, spake, or acted any thing at all.--Here likewise you must necessarily allow a continued course of miracles, one way or ther. At least, it must be allowed miraculous, that
so great a part of the world should all lose their senses together, and yet all of them imagined, that they had all this time their senses in their full exercise.
Let us next consider, whether the last of the suppositions, that the whole history of the mi. racles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, was an after.game, a mere piece of forgery, obtruded upon the world in some distant time, after the facts were pretended to be done, will appear more reasonable than the others already considered.
I have spoken something to this in my second letter, to which I refer you; and shall now only add some hints further to illustrate the case be. fore us.-If this last case be supposed, the forgery must be palmed upon the world, either before or after Christianity had generally obtained. If this false history was thrust upon the world in some distant age, after the facts were pretended to be done, before Christianity had generally obtained, it will then follow, that all the historians of those times (Christian, Jewis, and Pagan) have united in confederacy, to give us a false account of Christianity's immediately fincceeding the crucifixion of Chrift, not only in Judea, but in all parts of the Roman empire.-That they do all agree in this report, is what you must acknowledge ; but how they came to unite in relating such matters of fact, which they all (upon this supposition) must know to be false, is what no man can possibly imagine.If this was done after Christianity had obtained, it will follow, that a great part of the world renounced the religion in which they had been 'edu. cated; for they despised the doctrine of the Cross, and for a life of continued contempt, misery and peril, without knowing the reason why, and al
together together ignorant of the foundation upon which their new religion was built. For, if they profelfed Christianity, before they knew the history of Christ's life, miracles, death, resurrection, ascenfion, and before they had heard of the Apostles progress and miraculous works, with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost which accompanied their ministry, they then all agreed to facrifice their most valuable temporal interests, and multi. tudes of them endured the most terrible deaths, in a cause which they knew nothing about, and none of them knew any manner of reason why they thould do fo. - That is, in plain English, a great part of the world run mad at once most unac. countably; and from these madmen, Christianity is descended down to the present time.
It may be further observed, that upon the fupposition before us, it will also follow, that in whatever distant age, from these pretended facts, this history was palmed upon the world, all men at once muft be persuaded to believe for truth, what they knew to be false. These histories declare, that they were written by the Apostles and imme. diate disciples of our Lord ; that the authors of these histories did propagate the gospel through the world, did send these writings to the church. es, to be kept in their hands, as the rule of their lives, and the directory of their conduct ; and that, in fact, multitudes of the several nations were profelyted unto, and baptized into, the faith of Christianity.--Now, was it possible, at any time whatsoever, after those pretended facts, that these nations could be ignorant, whether these books, and this religion, were handed down to them by their progenitors ? Could not every one of the nations who are, in these books, said to be converted to Christianity, at once conclude that they had ne.