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as they are able to discover, of a good character, upright, and faithful. Nor do they think it too much trouble to use their utmost skill and sagacity in discovering where the truth lies; how far the witnesses agree with or contradict each other; and which way the several circumstances may be best compared, so as to find out any forgery, or detect any knavery which may be suspected in any branches of the evidence before them. They do not themselves pretend to judge of the reality or obligation of any ancient laws, or acts of parliament, from their own mere guesses or inclinations, but from the authenticness of the records which contain them; and though they are not able always to see the reason, or occasion, or wisdom of such laws, or acts of parliament; yet do they, upon full external evidence that they are genuine, allow and execute the same, as considering themselves to be not legislators, but judges and owning that ancient laws, and ancient facts, are to be known not by guesses or supposals, but by the production of ancient records, and original evidence for their reality. Nor in such their procedure do they think themselves guilty in their sentences, if at any time afterwards they discover that they have been imposed upon by false witnesses, or forged records; supposing, I mean, that they are conscious, that they did their utmost to discover the truth, and went exactly by the best evidence that lay before them; as knowing they have done their duty, and must in such a case be blameless before God and man, notwithstanding the mistake in the sentences themselves. Now this is that procedure which I would earnest
ly recommend to those that have a mind to inquire to good purpose into revealed religion; that after they have taken care to purge themselves from all those vices which will make it their great interest that religion should be false; after they have resolved upon honesty, impartiality, and modesty, which are virtues by the law of nature; after they have devoutly implored the divine assistance and blessing on this their important undertaking; which is a duty likewise they are obliged to by the same law of nature ; that after all this preparation, I say, they will set about the inquiry itself, in the very same manner that has been already described, and that all our upright judges proceed by in the discovery of truth. Let them spare for no pains, but consult all the originals, whenever they can come at them; and let them use all that diligence, sagacity, and judgment, which they are masters of, in order to see what real external evidence there is for the truth of the facts on which the Jewish and Christian religions do depend. I here speak of the truth of facts, as the surest way to determine us in this inquiry; because all the world, I think, owns, that if those facts be true, these institutions. of religion must also be true, or be derived from God; and that no particular difficulties, as to the reasons of several laws, or the conduct of Providence in several cases, which those institutions no where pretend to give us a full account of, can be sufficient to set aside the convincing evidence which the truth of such facts brings along with it. For example: those who are well satisfied of the truth of the Mosaic history; of the ten miraculous
plagues with which the God of Israel smote the Egyptians; of the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, while the Israelites were miraculously conducted through the same; and of the amazing manner wherein the decalogue was given by God to that people at Mount Sinai; will, for certain, believe that the Jewish religion was in the main derived from God, though he should find several occasional passages in the Jewish sacred books, which he could not account for, and several ritual laws given that nation, which he could not guess at the reasons why they were given them. And the case is the very same as to the miraculous resurrection, and glorious ascension of our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, with regard to the New Testament; on which account I reckon that the truth of such facts is to be principally inquired into, when we have a mind to satisfy ourselves in the variety of the Jewish and Christian religions. And if it be alleged that some of these facts are too remote to afford us any certain means of discovery at this distance of time; I answer, that then we are to select such of those facts as we can examine, and to search into the acknowledgment or denial of those that are ancienter, in the oldest testimonies now extant; into the effects and consequences, and standing memorials of such facts in after ages, and how far they were real, and allowed to be so; and in short, we are to determine concerning them, by the best evidence we can now have; and not let a bare suspicion, or a wish that things had been otherwise, overbalance our real evidence of facts in any case whatsoever. I do not mean that our inquirer is to have no re
gard to internal characters, or the contents of the Jewish and Christian revelations; or that he is not to examine into that also in the general, before he admits even the proof from miracles themselves; because what pretended miracles soever are wrought for the support of idolatry or wickedness, for the establishment of notions contrary to the divine attributes, or of an immoral, or profane, or cruel religion, though they may prove such a religion to be supernatural, yet will they only prove that it comes from wicked demons, or evil spirits, and not from a God of purity and holiness, and so will by no means prove it divine, or worthy of our reception. But then it is, for the main, so well known, that the Jewish and Christian institutions do agree to the divine attributes, and do tend to purity, holiness, justice, and charity; and are opposite to all immorality, profaneness, and idolatry, that I think there will not need much examination in so clear a case; and that, by consequence, our main inquiry is to be as to the truth of the facts thereto relating. And in this case, I fear not to invite all our sceptics and unbelievers, to use their greatest nicety, their entire skill, their shrewdest abilities, and their utmost sagacity in this inquiry; being well assured, from my own observations in this matter, that the proper result of such an exact historical inquiry will be as plainly and evidently on the side of revealed religion. Whiston.
REASONS FOR BELIEVING THE BOOK OF REVELA
TION TO BE TRUE.
SOME of the principal reasons which make me believe the Bible to be true, are the following:
1. The Bible lays the law of nature for its foundation; and all along supports and assists natural religion; as every true revelation ought to do.
2. Astronomy, and the rest of our certain mathematic sciences, do confirm the accounts of Scripture; so far as they are concerned.
3. The most ancient and best historical accounts now known, do, generally speaking, confirm the accounts of Scripture; so far as they are concerned.
4. The more learning has increased, the more certain in general do the Scripture accounts appear, and its difficult places are more cleared thereby.
5. There are, or have been generally, standing memorials preserved, of the certain truths of the principal historical facts, which were constant evidences for the certainty of them.
6. Neither the Mosaical law, nor the Christian religion, could possibly have been received and established without such miracles as the sacred history contains.
7. Although the Jews all along hated and persecuted the prophets of God, yet were they forced to believe they were true prophets, and their writings of divine inspiration.
8. The ancient and present state of the Jewish