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Designing Men, upon the Credulity, at first, of fimple and unthinking People, till, their Numbers encrea. fing their Delusions grew popular, came, at last, to be establish:d 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 Laps, they preserve themselves from Outrage, and Legal Penalties; for none of their Complexion are addicted to Sufferings or
Martydom. :. 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 Difputes, and which these Men of Reason deny by wholesale, tho' they can give no Reafon 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 fo Corrupted; which, in Reason ought to lie upon them to prove, who alledge it ; otherwise it is not only a Precarious, 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 side. Therefvre you are desirous to find some One Topick of Reason, which should demonstrate the Truth of the Christian Religion, and at the fame Time di
ftinguiih it from the Impostures of Mahomet, and the Old Pagan World : That our Deifts inay be brought to this Teft, and be either oblig'd to renounce their Reason, and the common Reason of Mankind, 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 Chriftian 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 fufficient; and, if sufficient, it is better than many 3 for multiplicity confounds, especially to weak Judg. ments.
Sir, you have impos'd an hard Task upon me, I wish I could perform it i For tho' every Truth is One, yet our Sight is so feeble, that we cannot (al. ways 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 Doctrine of CHRIST will be sufficiently evinced, if the Matters of Fall, which are recorded of hiin 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 froin GOD: These being the strongest Proofs we can desire, and which every Deift will coiifefs he wou'd
acquiesce in, if he saw them with his Eyes. There. fóre the stress of this Cause will depend upon the
Proof of these Matters of Falt. : 1. And the Method I will take, is, First, To lay, down such Rules, as to the Truth of Matters of Falt, in General, that where they All ineet, such Matters of Fa&t cannot be false. And then, Secondly, To Thew that all these Rules do meet in the Matters of Falt, 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,
1št. That the Matter of Facł be such, as that Mens outward Senfes, 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 fuch Monuments and such A&tions or Obfervances be Instituted, and do commence from the Time that the Matter of Fact was done.
3. The Two first Rules make it impossible for any such Matter of Fuž to be impos d upon Men, at the Time when such Matter of Fax 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 says.
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 Deifts 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 some 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 A&tions 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 inust know that no such Adions 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 Foint of his little Finger cut off; and that every Man iii the Nation did want a Joint of such a Finger ; and that this Institution was said to be part of the Matter of Fact done so many Years ago, and vouch'd as a Proof and Confirmation of it, and as having de
scended without Interruption, and beer constantly Sisi A4
practisd, in Memory of such Matter of fact, all along, from the Time that such Matter of Fa&t was done : I say, it is impossible I should be believ’d 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 Faet, muft 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 Fałt of Mahomet, or what is reported of the Heathen Deities, have the like; and that no Impostor can have them all.
1. As to Moses, I suppose it will be allow'd me, That he could not have persuaded 6c0000 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 Fał 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 same Reason it was, equally impoflible for him to have made them receive his Five Books as Truth, and not to have rejected them, as a manifest Imposture; 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 Chastifement of the Lord your God, bis Greatness, his mighty Hand, and his fretched-out Arm, and his Miracles, and his Axts, which he did in the midst of Ægypt, unto Pharaoh the King of Ægypt, and unto all bis Land, and what he did unto