Imágenes de páginas

the contrary, it is manifest from the Account given us in Scripture, that as they proposed the Doctrines and Laws they delivered to Mankind, in the Name and as by the Authority of God himself, which gave them another kind of Force than the mere Reasonings of Philosophers would have done; so they gave the World the most convincing Proofs that they were indeed sent of God, and that they received the Doctrines and Laws they delivered, by Revelation from him. In which cafe Reason and common Sense directed Men to believe those Doctrines and submit to those Laws. For it is the Voice of Nature and Reason, that if God gives a Revelation to Mankind, what is there taught and enjoined, ought to be believed and received upon his Authority, provided we have sufficient Proofs to convince us that such a Revelation came from God.

But to return to our Author's Account of the Gospel-Narrative, the Sum of it is this; That Cbriji and his Apostles required Men to believe at once without Reason or Evidence, and pronounced Damnation against them if they did not. That Cbriji did not lay the Proof's of his Mijjion frankly before his Disciples, nor give them time calmly to Consider them; and that he refused to explain himself to them when they wanted it, and discouraged their Enquiries. That he required those that came to him to be healed, to believe before he healed them, which plainly shews, that the Conviblion rJjas to precede the Evidence, as the Terms of the favour to be consequently conferred*. That he


[ocr errors]

ever disclaimed with the utmost Resentment such Followers as were desirous to canvass the Evidence, and discouraged no Temper with Jo constant an Aversion, as that of seeking a Sign *. And whereas it might be alledged, that lie produced his Miracles as Evidences of his divine Mission, our Author affirms and endeavours after his Manner to shew, that he had,no Intention to prove his Truth and Character by those Works -f. That lie both expected and accepted the sudden Conversion of many upon little or no seeming Evidence; and no^ thing was of greater Merit than an extempore Subscription. And that he rejected some Persons immediately when they had not Minds prepared to believe at once, and gave them up instantly to the Hardness of their Hearts without Remedy ||. That the Apostles did all along tread punctually in their Master's Steps, insisting constantly on the ready Acknowledgement of their Doctrines, without any Concessions of Time for Doubt or Deliberation. And that of the Terms of the Covenant one Declaration was often thought sufficient, and the least standing off gave up the Unbeliever to Reprobation J. That it was required of those to whom the Gospel was preached, that they should not one Moment withhold their Assent, and that the Apostles very justly expected to make their Converts with a Word's speaking **. That their Office was only to circulate their Creeds; they were not sent to dispute, but to preach. And that in like manner the Directions they gave to their deputed Successors was not


•P,-,8,49. fP. 43-50- IIP- 37,<*J.<5M7- tP- ?8- ** P. 41

to confute or argue with those whom they were to receive to the Faith *.

Such is the Representation this Gentleman is pleased to make, and which he pretends is plain from the sacred History, of the Method made use of by our Saviour and his Apostles in planting the Gospel. Let us now fee from Christ's own Declarations, and from the History of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, whether this Account be true. After which I shall take notice, as far as it may be necessary, of the Instances produced by this Writer to support the Account he gives

With regard to our Saviour himself, he was Ib far from requiring Men to believe on his bare Word without Proof, that he declared, if J bear witness of my self, that is, if I have no other Evidence but my bare Word, my Witness is not true -j-. He encouraged Examination and Enquiry, Search the Scriptures, said he to the Jews, for they are they which testify of me ||. Instead of forbidding them to judge fairly and impartially, and to use their Understandings, he expostulates with them for not doing so. Why even of your selves judge ye not that which is right? fudge not according to Appearance, but judge righteous Judgment **. The Faith he approves is founded in the Understanding. He describes the good Hearer of the Word to be one that bear et h the Word and underftandeth it, which also beareth Fruit %. In his Discourse to the Jews, he frequently appeals to the illustrious Attestations that were given him, and


• P. 39,40.' f John v. 51. (| John v. 30. *• Lukexii. 54— 57. John vii. 24. J Matt. xiii. 23.

the manifest Proofs he exhibited of his divine Mission. Thus, after having spoken of the remarkable Testimony given him by John the Baptist, he adds, but I have a greater Witness than that of John: for the Works which the Father hath given me to finish, the fame Works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me *. And again, If I do not the Works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, tho ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him -f-. And, speaking of the sews and Pharisees that did not believe in him, he faith, If I bad not come and spoken unto them, they had not had Sin, but now they have no Cloke for their Sin; and then adds, If I had not done among them the Works which none other Man did, they had not had Sin ||. Where he evidently supposes, that his Works bore Testimony to his Doctrine and divine Mission j and that they were Proofs so strong and convincing, as left them utterly without Excuse in their Unbelief. And this may help us to judge of the Sincerity and Candour of this Writer, who confidently affirms, in express Contradiction to our Saviour's own Declarations, that he had not any such Meaning or Intention to convince Persons, or to prove his own Truth and Character by bis Works; and insinuates, that he was notjbllicitous to gain Proselytes by such Means, and was conscious he had nothing of that kind to produce. P. 49, 50.


• Johnv. 5(5, 57. t Johnx. 24, 3-» 38. 10, »• I) John xv. 22, 24.

What the Method was that was taken after out Lord's Ascension to propagate the Christian Faith, we have a full Account in the Acts of the Apostles. That Book opens with an admirable Discourse of the Apostle Peter to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, in which he reasons strongly from the holy Scriptures, and from the extraordinary divine Attestations given from Heaven, to convince the "Jews, that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was Lord and Christ. And we have an Account of several other excellent Discourses of his in that sacred Book. Concerning Stephen the first Martyr, we are told, that as he did great Wonders and Miracles among the People, so when several of the Jews disputed with him, they were not able to resist the Spirit and Wi/dom, with which he Jpake *. He was therefore able to give good Reasons for the Faith, and such as they could not confute. St. Paul laboured more abundantly than any of the other Apostles in spreading the Faith of the Gospel, and what his usual manner was we are informed ASls xvii. 2, 3. where we are told, that at Thef falonica, Paul, as his manner was, went into the Synagogue of the Jews, and three Sabbath-days he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alledging, that Chri/t must needs have Juffered, and risen again from the Dead, and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is the Christ. Here it is plain, quite contrary to the Representation made by our Author, that his manner of making Converts was not to urge them to believe without a Reason for it, but strongly to reason with them,


• Acts ri. 9,10. ,

« AnteriorContinuar »