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ceived by all christians, at the very time when they were first forged, as if they had been originally there.
If this were true, the accounts of Jesus's predictions of his own death and resurrection; and of the application of the Chief PRIESTS THEMSELVES to Pilate, to make the sepulcbre sure, because THEY REMEMBERED that Jesus bad said, After three days I will rise again *;-as well as the fact itself, that a guard was set at the sepulchre, in consequence of it and further, all the accounts of his refurrection itself, and every particular relating to it; and especially that of its being publicly known that money was given by the High Priests to the guard to be silent about it; together with his several appearances to his disciples, and every thing he is related to have said and done after it; and his ascension in particular; All these relations must not only have been false in fact; but they must have been clandestinely inserted into the Gospels, above fixty years after the death of Christ, and many years after the Gospels had been constantly read in the religious meetings of the christians; and yet the christians in all places must universally have agreed, even the very first time they heard all these astonishing relations, that they always had been acquainted with them from their first knowledge of the Gospel.
If this were true, The relation we now have of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, with the miraculous effects of it; their immediately speaking in a variety of languages which they knew not before, and their converting a great multitude of the Jews by that means; as well as their possessing this gift of tongues, and all other miraculous powers ever
* Matth. xxvii. 62, &c.
after; and their actually conferring the very
fame powers on those they converted to the faith in CHRIST; must not only be utter falsehoods, which had no foundation in fact ; but they must have been forged, and inserted into Luke's genuine History of the Acts of the Apostles, many years after it was written, and delivered to the disciples for their instruction, and all who had heard it read before these interpolations, must nevertheless have been persuaded, that these facts were nothing more than they had always heard of, from the very first time they heard this history read.
If this were true, the relations we now have of the deaths of Ananias and Saphira *;--And every circumstance recorded of the miraculous conversion of St. Paul + ; as well as his own appeal to these circumstances before the multitude at Jerusalem $, and before Agrippa and Festus at Cefarea $ ;-And the accounts of all the miracles universally which the Apostles are said to have performed f ; must not only have been utterly false in fact ; but they must have been first inserted into Luke's genuine History, many years after it had been in the possession of many christian congregations; and yet none of those who had heard and read it, before these false and amazing relations were foisted in, were able to perceive that any thing was inserted into it, which had not always been related there before.
But not to go on enumerating that multitude of the most glaring absurdities, necessarily included in the fundamental principles of the Author, with which almost every page of the New Testament would supply us; Two particulars there are, yet unmentioned, which alone would furnish an
+ Ibid. ix. 9 Acts v. 15, 16.
| Ibid. xxii.
§ Ibid.- xxv.
unanswerable proof, that the Author's principles must be false.
If Jesus was nothing more than a mere man, who for his own fatisfaction went about inculcating the mere duties of morality alone; and every thing fupernatural related of him in the Nero Testament is forged ;-The accounts we now have of his instituting The Rite of Baptism, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost * ;
And of his inftitution of The Lord's Supper ; in which institution, His body is declared to be given, or broken, for us t; and his blood is called, his blood of the New Testament, Or the New Testament in his blood, shed for many, for the remission of fins $; The accounts we now have of Jesus's instituting these two distinguishing Rites, in which the capital supernatural revelations of the New Testament are expressly asserted; must be forged and absolutely false ;-Jesus himself could not have instituted these Rites; nor could his Apostles have ever ċelebrated these Rites Themselves, or have suffered them to be celebrated by the converts they made to the Gospel
If therefore the Author's principles were true, these Rites never could have been celebrated, or even heard of, while any of the Apostles them, selves were alive ; notwithstanding we are expressly told, that the Apostles baptized about three thousand converts even on the day of Pentecost and that from that time they constantly celebrated the Last Supper Ø; but the history of their inftitution, and constant celebration from the very beginning, must have been foifted into the New Testament, at the foonest after the death of John; that is, aboye sixty years after the
* Matth. xxviii. 19. + Luke xxii. 19.
1 Cor. xi. 24. I Luke xxii. 21. Matth. xxvi, 28. g Acts ii. 41, 42, 46.
Apostles Apostles began to preach the Gospel. And further, what is more surprising still, as soon as these forgeries were made, all the christians in every place where the Gospel was professed, must have concurred in believing and acknowledging, That these peculiar Rites, which they had never heard of before, had originally been instituted by CHRIST himself; and always been celebrated by the Apostles, from their first beginning to preach the Gofa pel ; Nay, they must all have concurred in be lieving, that they themselves had actually been baptized, and been constantly accustomed 'to ces lebrate the Lord's Supper ; when in fact no such institutions had ever been heard of as either the One, or the other.
Such, and so flagrant, are the manifold abfurdities which we must unavoidably admit, before we can suppose, with our Author, that Jesus was nothing more than a preacher of mere morality alone, and that whatever else is attributed to him in the New Testament, has been surreptitiously foisted into it, by any persons whatever, since the time of the Apostles, its original Writers. And since we have likewise feen, that the absurdities to be admitted would be neither fewer, nor less extravagant, were we to suppose, that the divine character and doctrines of Jesus, as we find them in the New Testament, had been falsely attributed to him by the Apostles themselves; the consequence is unavoidable; that That divine character, and Those supernatural works and declarations, which the New Testament attributes to him; are the very character he himself assumed, the very declarations he made, and the very works he performed ; and therefore, that all these doctrines and declarations are as much to be regarded upon his established divine authority; as his moral precepts are on
their own account, for their evident propriety and truth.
And thus, it is hoped, the divine character of Jesus appears already fully vindicated, from those false, contradictory, and absurd aspersions, which the Author before us has tried all his strength to fix upon it. Whether after coolly considering what has here been alleged, he will still adhere to the principles for which he contends, the event alone must shew. But should this prove the case, what can reasonably be concluded, but that either there must be in him an evil beart of unbelief ; or, as I would rather hope, that some unfortunate prejudices have so effečtually hood-winked all his reasoning powers, as to disable him, in this in: stance, from distinguishing the most glaring falsehood from evident truth.
SECT. III. The Author's argument founded on what he supposes
to be the Nature of Mysteries, considered.
HE Aagrant absurdity of those principles of Jesus, and the Scriptures of the New Testament, for which alone the Author contends, haying been thus, it is conceived, unanswerably proved, from the very nature of the things themselves; we might justly be excused the trouble of examining any of those arguments he has thrown confusedly together in their support; since whatever principles can once be satisfactorily proved to be false and absurd, no arguments can ever render credible or true. But because the arguments he has alleged, and more especially that