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after his Ascension, in consequence of his own Prediction and Promise. And this again was proved to the World by the most extraordinary Gifts and Powers abiding with his Disciples, who went thro' all Nations teaching the things which he had commanded them, and were
not without the greatest Absurdity be supposed, that there should have been a Combination among so many Persons to put an Imposture upon the World in that matter; or if there had, it is scarce poslible but that it must have been detected, and that among such a Number one or other would have been prevail'd upon by Bribes or Threatnings, to discover and acknowledge the Imposture. Whereas they all persisted uniformly in their Testimony with an unshaken Constancy, and many of them sealed it with their Blood. But that which gave the most remarkable Confirmation to their Testimony, and which was never cqu.il'd in any other Case, was, that God bore them witnels by Signs anJ Wonders, and divers Miracles and Gifts of the Holy Ghost, poured forth upon the Disciples in the Name of a risen Jesus.
The Story set about by the Jens, that his Disciples flole him by Night whilst the Soldiers slept, was a plain Acknowledgment that his Body was gone out of the Sepulchre; and since it was pretended the Soldiers were asleep, he might have risen of himself for any thing they could tell to the contrary. But if they had really believed that the Disciples stole him, whilst a Guard of Soldiers were purposely set to watch the Body; can it be imagined that they would not have made a strict Enquiry, and have got the Soldiers severely punished for so criminal a Neglect of their Duty, which could scarce be supposed without a Combination between them and the Disciples? Why did they not take pains to search out and seize the Disciples, to confront them with one another, and with the Guards? Why did they not call Joseph oiArlmathea to an account, to get, if possible, to the bottom of the Imposture, and to stifle all Reports of enabled for many Years together in the Name and by the Power of a risen Jesus, to perform the most illustrious Miracles, such as he himself had done whilst on Earth j all which came in
his Resurrection in the very birth? This is the Method that common Sense would have directed to in this case; and which they would undoubtedly have taken, considering how zealous they were in the Cause, and that they had the power in their hands. But instead of this, all was huddled up; the Centinels were unpunished, their Evidence stifled, no farther Enquiry made. And when the Disciples openly avowed that Chri/i was f isen from the Dead, of which th'. y were Witnesses, they durst not enter into a particular Discussion or Examination of that matter, but contented themselves with commanding them not to speak in his Name, who boldly declared to their faces, that they would do it. In a word, it is plain from their whole Management on this occasion-, that it was not for want of sufficient Evidence of Christ's Resurrection, that the Rulers of the 'Jews did not believe in him; and that as they were disposed, they would not have acknowledged him as the Messiah, whatever other Evidence had been offered; so when they could not deny that Jejus had raised Lazarus from the Dead, instead of being convinced by it, they only took counsel how they might destroy them both.
But if the Rulers and Body of the Jtwijh Nation had believed in a risen 'Jesus, and embraced his Religion, would those, who now make their not believing an Argument against the Truth of Cbri/i's Resurrection, have been convinced? No. It is probable they would have taken still greater advantage of this, and represented it as a national Affair, in which the Jews joined out of that Attachment to the Honour and Interest of their Nation, for which they were so remarkable. Such is the true Spirit of Infidelity, always to find fault with the Evidence that is already offered, and to insist upon sonic other or farther Proof, which if it were granted would be as far from giving satisfaction as before.
aid of theirTestimony, and gave it a force which no other Testimony ever had. Here is such a Concurrence of the most extraordinary divine Attestations, such a Concatenation of Evidences, one supporting another, that the Apostle had reason to lay to the Christian Converts, that if an Angel from Heaven had endeavoured to turn them to another Go/pel, they were not to regard him. Where he does not put a Case that he supposed might really happen, but uses a strong Manner of Expression to signify, that no Pretence whatsoever mould turn them from a steady Adherence to the Golpel of Chrijl. And tho' our Author seems to think that an Angel's appearing from Heaven would have been the highest Evidence possible, p.H. yet 1 believe any one that impartially considers this matter, will be apt to conclude, that the Appearance of a single Angel would have fallen vastly short in Strength of Evidence, of that amazing Succession of illustrious divine Attestations that were given to Christianity 5 the like to which never was in proof of any false Religion, nor can be supposed to be in consistency with the Wisdom and Goodness of divine Providence. For this would be to lay too great a Temptation in the way of his frail Creatures; since we cannot conceive, that supposing a Revelation really to have come from God, it could have been attended with more illustrious confirming Evidences of a divine Original, than all these taken together do form. And when to these external Attestations
is is added the exemplary Purity of the great Founder of this Religion, the excellent Character of his Disciples, so remote from that of Impostors, and from all worldly Views and carnal Interests; and the Nature and Tendency of the Religion thus attested, which is designed to reclaim Men from Idolatry, Vice, and Wickedness, to the Love of God, to his pure Worship, to the Practice of universal Holiness and Virtue, and to the heavenly Mind and Life, it carries the Evidence as far as it can go. For this againfurnishes a new Proof, that as the Miracles were such as vastly exceeded all human Power, so were they not owing to the Agency of superior evil Beings; since it can never be imagined, that they would contribute their Assistance to the performing such wonderful Things in favour of a Religion so directly opposite to all their Interests, and to the Designs evil Beings must be supposed to have in view. And therefore they must have been wrought by the immediate Assistance and Agency of God himself, or, which comes to the fame thing, by the Assistance of good Beings superior to Man, acting under him, and by his Direction, and who would never have thus given their Attestation to Fraud and Imposture.
There is another thing which the Author offers, p. 47. and which he seems to design as an Argument. I would answer it if I understood it, but I confess I cannot well make sense of it myself, nor have met with any body that
could. could. But as far as I am able to apprehend it, the Drift of it seems to be this that such Miracles as were wrought at the first Establishment of Christianity were to be expected as the natural Effects of such a benevolent Religion as the Christian, and therefore could not be Evidences of its Truth and Divinity: As if tho fame wonderful Works might not be both Instances of great Benevolence, and the Effects of a divine Power, and consequently Proofs of a divine Interposition. And certainly if any Religion could be supposed to be of such a nature, as necessarily to bring along with it such glorious Effects of a divine Power and Benevolence, this would be a plain Evidence that it came from God.
This Gentleman having made an Attempt to shew that Miracles can in no cafe be any Proofs at all, afterwards seems willing in his great Liberality to grant, that Miracles might be Evidences to those that actually saw them; but he denies they could be Evidences to any other Persons. He affirms, that they could not be Proofs even to the Men oft/pat Generation that were not actually and personally present, when they were done, and that for the same evident Reason they can be none to us now -, p. 51. He goes on to declaim in many Words after his manner, and all that he urges here depends upon this Principle, that no Accounts of past Facts can at all be safely depended upon, and that no Man is to believe any thing but what he actually fees