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for the Truth of the Faff be stritlly just, and in all refpefts sufficient to oblige us, as reasonable Creatures, to yield the Assent of our Minds thereto. And this is the Enquiry, that now lies before us. And as 'tis that which crowns and concludes all; so I shall endeavour to bestow an answerable Degree of Care in the Management of it, that the way to our great Conclusion may lie fair and open to us.
ICome now therefore, to the fourth and last general Head, of the Method propos'd, viz..
That there is aliually such an Evidence, for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as does fully come up to all the Characters and Conditions of an Evidence, which obliges Human Understanding: Or that ic is such, as lays an indispensable Obligation on every capable Subject, to whom that Doctrine is fairly represented, with its proper Evidences; to receive it as a certain Truth.
Two things therefore are here to be done.
First, We will state in order, the several Conditions of the Evidence we speak of; as what diretlly obliges the Understanding of Mankind.
Secondly, We will demonstrate, that the Evidence we have, for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, does fully come up to those Conditions.
And, 1 suppose, this is all that can be demanded reasonably, in order to a Conclusion.
In order to the First of these, I must refer to what has been said, concerning the Nature of the Evidence here intended; at SECT. III. Part II.
I have there given such an account of it, as contains all that is either needful to the present Purpose, or to make any Person of tolerable Understanding know what I mean.
So that there is nothing remaining for me to do, with respect to that matter} but only to branch out, what lies there summ'd up together, into proper Heads for our present Design.
And this I shall do, in the following Particulars.
First, "shit Evidence is such, as being impartially •weighed and consider''d, by the free Vfe of a Man's Reason, in all the common and allow d ways of using it would more powerfully incline him to the Belief of a thing proposed, than any Objections to the contrary, when duly stated, and set in a just Lights would dissuade him from the Belief of that thing.
Secondly, Not only so: but 'tis such likewise,1 That if a Man Jhould rejeB it, he must necessarily be forced upon such sort of Consequences, as the genuine and disinterested Sense of all Mankind, would condemn as absurd and wrong; and which even he himself, without making use of some bad Arts sot managing his Understanding, contrary to its native Biafs and Tendency", would not be able to digest j but must disown as irrational and absurd, when he came to reflect upon them, in a cool and serious Temper
Thirdly, 'Tis such, as furnishes a Man with all those Media, which according to the Nature of the Cafe proposed, are necessary to the making a perspicuous natural Conclusion j and by the help of which, he may
B b likewise likewise solve whatever Difficulties occur, upon such Principles, as Mankind in all resembling Cases, uni* verfally agree to argue themselves into a just Satisfaction and Assurance os the Truth os things by.
This is, in short, the Substance of that Account. So that the Conditions requir'd therein, and which therefore we must (hew exactly to agree, to the Evidence we have for the Resume tion os Christ; are these:
The Arguments alledged, must weigh down what* ever Objections are started on the contrary fide.
Those Arguments ought to be of such a kind and such only, as is proper and futable to the Nature of the Case proposed.
They should be such, that a Man may be made as sure of the truth of a-thing, by them; as he ever is or can be, in any Cafe of the like Nature.
Absurd and irrational Consequences, must be the Result of the Denial of them.
Whatever Difficulties are proposed, may be solved upon such Principles as the common Practice and Consent of Mankind has establish'd, and to which resort is always had in Cafes of a similar Nature.
And in judging of all this, 'tis requir'd also,
That a Man Jhould use his Reason in the most free and disinterested manner, and let his Understanding conclude, what by the Laws and Constitution. of Human Nature, ought to be concluded from such and such Circumstances of things proposed to it.
This Point thus stated and fettled, I shall now demonstrate
Secondly, That the Evidence we have, for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, does fully come up to these Conditionsla order to this, let the following steps be well conlider'd.
1 have demonstrated at large, in Part II. the Validity and Obligatory Nature of Moral Evi* dence, together with the absolute Necessity we lie under, of admitting such kind of Evidence as this \ and that not from uncertain Guesses and Surmises, but from what is plain Matter of FaEl, in Human Nature, and of Experience in the World
I have (hewn, that according to the Nature of things, this sort of Proof is to be apply'd and made use of, for evincing the Truth of things, in Cafes of the highest and greatest Importance^ all one, as in those that are of less Moment, at PROP. IX. And therefore, that as there can
ther sort of Proof, in this particular CaTeof the ResurreOion of Jesus Christ; so >tis strictly Just and Rational, fully to acquiesce therein -, provided it be such as carries every thing along with it, that the Laws and Constitution of the World, and the Circumstances of Human Nature in it, have made necessary, in order to our full Satisfaction and free Assent, in Cafes of this kind.
1 have farther made it appear, that the Testimony for the Fact of Christ's RefurreQion, is so circumstantiated; that if it may be rejected, no Evidence of that nature is ever to be admitted amongst Mankind; but all Moral Proof must at once be thrown out of doors, and either Scnsi*
be no Ground nor Pretence, for
ble Proof or Mathematical Demonstration be demanded and given, for every thing that is propos'd as a matter of Belief.
That it was as impossible, as any thing which is not physically and limply impossible, can be j that there should have been any Fraud committed by the Friends and Disciples of Jesus Christ: and that by all the Rules and Measures known in the World, for judging of Events of this kind; if there had been any fraudulent Management on the part of the Disciples, it must infallibly have been discover'd and laid open.
That all the plain and allow'd Marks of egregious Fallhood and Imposture, appear'd thro the whole Behaviour and Conduct of the Enemies of Jesus Christ.
That they did, what guilty and self-condemn'd Men ought to have done, must necessarily do, and always actually do, in such Cases, to skreen Malice and Wickedness from Discovery, and to run down Truth that would expose them to the World.
Moreover, I have shewn, that the Supposition of Cheat and Imposture, in the matter of Christ's Resurrettion, is attended with the grossest Ab surditiesr with such plain and manifest Contradictions, to all the known Experience, the stated Principles of Action, and Methods of procedure amongst Mankind j that a Man that mould seriously advance, or stand by any such Motions as those, in any of the Affairs and Concerns of Human Life, would be given up, as lost to all common Sense and Understanding, and thought incapable of any rational intercourse with, or treatment from the rest of his FellowCreatures.