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Designing Men, upon the Credulity, at first, of simple and unthinking People, till, their Numbers encrea: sing their Delusions grew popular, came, at laft,to be establishid by Laws, and then the Force of Education and Custom gives a Byass to the Judgments of after Ages, till such Deceits come really to be believ'd, being receiv'd upon Trust from the Ages foregoing, without examining into the Original and Bottom of them. Which these our modern Men of Sense, (as they desire to be esteem'd) say, That they only do, that they only have their Fudgments freed from the slavish Authority of Precedents and Laws, in Matters of Truth, which, they say, ought only to be decided by Reason; tho' by a prudent Compliance with Popularity and Laws, they preserve themselves from Outrage, and Legal Penalties; for none of their Complexion are addicted to Sufferings or Marty, dom.
Now, Sir, that which you desire from me, is, fome Iliort Topic of Reason, if such can be found, whereby, without running to Authorities, and the intricate Mazes of Learning, which breed long Dir. putes, and which these Men of Reason deny by wholesale, tho' they can give no Reason for it, only suppose that Authors have been Trump'd upon us, Interpolated, and Corrupted, so that no stress can be laid upon them, tho it cannot be shewn wherein they are so Corrupted; which, in Reason ought to lię upon them to prove, who alledge it ; otherwise it is not only a Precarions, but a Guilty Plea: And the inore, that they refrain not to quote Books on their side, for whose Authority, there are no better, or not so good Grounds. However, you say, it makes your Disputes endless and they go away with Noise and Clamour, and a Boast, That there is nothing, at least nothing Certain, to be said on the Christian fide. Therefore you are desirous to find some One Topick of Reafon, which should demonstrate the Truth of the Christian Religion, and at the same Time di
ftinguiih it from the Impoftures of Mahomet, and the Old Pagan World That our Deifts may be brought to this Teft, and be either oblig'd to renounce their Reason, and the common Reason of Minkind, or to submit to the clear Proof, from Reason, of the Christian Religion, which must be such a Proof, as no Imposture can pretend to, otherwise it cannot prove the Christian Religion not to be an Imposture. And, whether such a Proof, one single Proof (to avoid Confusion) is not to be found out, you defire to know from me.
And you say, that you cannot imagine but there must be such a Proof, because every Truth is in itself Clear, and One ; and therefore that One Reason for it, if it be the true Reason, must be sufficient; and, if sufficient, it is better than many 3 for multiplicity confounds, especially to weak Juug.
Sir, you have impos’d an hard Task upon me, I wish I could
perform ir : For tho' every Truth is One, yet our Sight is so feeble, that we cannot (always) come to it directly, but by many Inferences, and laying of Things together.
But I think, that in the Case before us, there is such a Proof as you require, and I will set it down as Short and Plain as I can.
II. First then, I suppose, that the Truth of the Do&trine of CHRIST will be sufficiently evinced, if the Matters of Fact, which are recorded of him in the Gospels be True ; for his Miracles, if True, do vouch the Truth of what he delivered.
The same is to be said as to Moses. If he brought the Children of Israel thro' the Red-Sea, in that miraculous manner, which is related in Exodus, and did such other wonderful Things as are there told of him, it must necessarily follow, that he was sent from GOD: These being the strongest Proofs we can desire, and which every Deift will conifess he wou'd A 3
acquiesce acquiesce in, if he saw them with his Eyes. Therefóre the stress of this Cause will depend upon the Proof of these Matters of Fa&t.
1. And the Method I will take, is, First, To lay. down such Rules, as to the Truth of Matters of Fact, in General, that where they all ineet, such Matters of Fact cannot be false. And then, Secondly, To thew that all these Rules do meet in the Matters of Fact, of Mofes and of Christ, and that they do not meet in the Matters of Fact of Mahomet, of the Heathen Deities, or can possibly meet in any Imposture whatsoever.
2. The Rules are these,
1st. That the Matter of Fact be such, as that Mens outward Senses, their
Eyes and Ears may be Judges of it.
2. That it be done Publickly, in the Face of the World.
3. That not only publick Monuments be kept up in Memory of it, but some outward Actions to be perforin'd.
4. 'That such Monuments and fuch A&tions or Observances be Instituted, and do commence from the Time that the Matter of Fa&t was done.
3. The Two first Rules make it impossible for any such Matter of Fue to be impos d upon Men, at the Time when such Matter of Fać was said to be done, because every Man's Eyes and Senses wou'd contradiet it. For Example ; fuppose any Man 1hou'd pretend, that Yesterday he divided the Thames, in Preferice of all the People of London, and carried the whole City, Men, Women, and Children, over to Southwark on dry Land, the Waters Standing like Walls on both sides : I say, it is mo
rally impossible that he could perswade the Pego ple of London, that this was true, when every Man, Woman, and Child, could contradict him, and say, That this was a notorious Falfhood, for that they had not seen the Thames fo divided, or had gone over on dry Land. Therefore I take it for granted, (and I suppose, with the allowance of all the Deists in the World) that no such Imposition could be put upon Men, at the Time when such publick Matter of Fact was said to be done.
4. THEREFORE it only remains, that such Mat. ter of Fa&t might be invented fome time after, when the Men of that Generation, wherein the Thing was said to be done, are all past and gone, and the Credulity of after Ages might be impos’d upon, to believe that Things were done in former Ages, which were not.
AND for this the Two last Rules secure us as much as the Two first Rules, in the former Cafe; for whenever such a Matter of Fact came to be invented, if not only Monuments were said to remain of it, but likewise that publick Actions and Observances were constantly us'd ever since the Matter of Fax was said to be done; the Deceit must be detected, by no such Monuments appearing, and by the Experience of every Man, Woman, and Child, who must know that no such Actions or Observances were ever us’d by them. For Example; Suppose I should now invent a Story of such a Thing, done a Thousand Years ago, I might perhaps, get some to believe it, but if I say, that not only such a Thing was done, but that from that Day to this, every Man, at the Age of Twelve Years, had a Joint of his little Finger cut off; and that every Man ini the Nation did want a Joint of such a Finger ; and that this Institution was said to be part of the Matter of Fait done so many Years ago, and vouch'd as a Proof and Confirmation of it, and as having defcended without Interruption, and been constantly
practis d, in Memory of such Matter of Fall, all along, from the Time that such Matter of Fa& was done : I say, it is impossible I should be believod in such a Case, because every one could contradict me, as to the Mark of cutting off a Joint of the Finger ; and that being part of my original Matter of Fact, must demonstrate the whole to be false.
III. LET us now come to the Second Point, to shew, that the Matters of Fact of Moses, and of Chrift, have all these Rules or Marks before mention'd; and that neither the Matters of Fact of Mahomet, or what is reported of the Heathen Deities, have the like; and that no Impostor can have them all.
1. As to Mofes, I suppose it will be allow'd me, That he could not have persuaded 6coooo Men, that he had brought them out of Ægypt, through the Red Sea ; fed them 40 Years without Bread, by miraculous Manna, and the other Matters of Fast recorded in his Books, if they had not been true. Because every Man's Senses that were then alive, must have contradicted it. And therefore he must have impos’d upon. all their Senses, if he could have made them believe it, when it was false, and no such Things done. So that here are the First and Second of the above mentioned Four Marks.
For the fame Reason it was, equally impossible for him to have made them receive his Five Books as Truth, and not to have rejected them, as a manifest Impofture ; which told of all these Things as done before their Eyes, if they had not been so done. See how positively he speaks to them, Deut. Xi. 2. to Ver. 8. And know you this Day, for I speak not with your Children which have not known, and which have not seen the Chastisement of the Lord your God, bis Greatness, his mighty Hand, and his stretched-out Arm, and his Miracles, and his A&ts, which he did in the midst of Ægypt, unto Pharaoh the King of Ægypt, and unto all bis Land, and what he did unto