« AnteriorContinuar »
Chr. What I have said, is only to dispose- you to hear me impartially, and not to be prejudiced against your own Happiness, both here and hereafter.
(2.) De. Well, without more prefacing, the Case is this; I believe a God as well as you; but for Revelation, and what you call the Holy Scriptures, I may think they were wrote by pious and good Men, who might take this Method of Speaking as from God, and in his Name, as supposing that those good Thoughts came from him, and that it would have a greater Effei l upon the People; and might couch their Morals under Histories of Things supposed to be done; as several of the wise Heathens have taken this Course, in what they told of Jupiter and Juno, and the rest of their Gods and Godneffes: But, as to the Fails themselves, I believe the one no more than the other; or that all the Fails in 0vi<Ts Metamorphoses, or in Æsop,s Fables, were true.
Chr. You seem willing by this to preserve a respectful Esteem and Value for the Holy Scriptures, as being wrote by pious and good Men, and with a good Defign to reform the Manners of Men ; but your Argument proves directly against the Purpose for which you brought it; and makes the Penmen of the Scriptures to be sar from good Men, to be not only Cheats and Impostors, but Blasphemers, and an Abomination. before God: For such these same Scriptures frequently call those who presume to speak as from God, and in his Name, when he had not sent them, and given them Authority so to do: And the Law in the Scriptures condemns such to be stoned to Death, as Blasphemers.
It was not so with the Heathen ; their Moralists did not use the Style of, Thus faith the Lord; and their Philosophers opposed and wrote against one another without any Offence: For all the Matter was, which of them could reason best ; they pretended to no more.
And for the Fails of the Fables of their Gods, themselves did not believe them, and have wrote the Mythology or Moral that was intended by them.
De. But many of the common People did believe the Facts themselves; as it is with the common People now in the Church of Rome, who believe the most senseless and ridiculous Stories in their Books of Legends to be as true as the Gospel; though the more wise among them call them only pious Frauds to increase the Devotion of the People. And so we think of your Go/pel itself, and all the other Books you say were wrote by Men divinely inspired: We will let you keep them to cajole the Mob; but when you would impose them upon Men of Sense, we mult come to the Test with you.
Chr. That is what I defire; and to fee whether there are no more Evidences to be given for the Truth of Christianity, that is, of the Holy Scriptures, than are given for the Legends, and all the sabulous Stories of the Heathen Gods: And if so, I will give up my Argument, and consess that it is not in my Power to convince you.
De. I cannot refuse to join Issue with you upon this. To begin then : I defire to know your Evidences for the Truth of your Scriptures, and thzFacts therein related.
(3). Chr. If the Truth of the Book, and the Facts therein related, be proved, I suppose you will not deny the Doctrines to be true.
De. No: For if I saw such Miracles with my Eyes, as are said to have been done by Moses and Christ, I could not think of any greater Proof to be given, that such an one was sent oiGod. Therefore if your Bible be true as to the Facts, I must believe it in the Doctrine too. But there are other Books which pretend to give us Revelations from God, and we must know which of these is true.
Chr. To distinguish this Book from all others which pretend to give Revelations from God, these four Marks or Rules were set down.
I. That the Facts related be such of which Mens outward Senses, their Eyes and Ears, may judge.
[This cuts off enthufiafiical Pretences to Revelafioy, and Opiniont which may be propagated in the Dark,
and, like the Tares, not known till they are grown up, and the first Beginning of them not discovered.]
II. That these Facts be done openly in the Face of the World.
III. That not only publick Monuments, but outward Institutions and Actions, should be appointed, and perpetually kept up, in Memory of them.
IV. That these Institutions to be observed should commence from the Time that the Facts were done; and, consequently, that the Book wherein these Facts and Institutions are recorded, should be written at the Time, and by those who did the Facts, or by E•e and EarWitnesses. For that is included in this Mark, and is the main Part of it, to prevent false Stories being coined in After-Ages, of Things done many hundred Years before, which none alive can disprove. Thus Moses wrote his five Books containing his Actions and Institutions: And those of Christ were wrote by his Disciples, who were Eye and Ear-Witnesses of what they related: And particular Care was taken of this, as you may see, Acts i. zi, 22. upon choofing one to supply the Place of Judas; Wherefore of these M n which have companied with us, all the 'lime that the Lord Jesus wertt in and out among us, beginning from the Baptism of J ohn, until that same Day that he was taken up from us, must cue be ordained to be Witness with us of his Resurrection. And St. John begins his first Epistle thus, That which was from the Beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our Eyes, which we have looks d upon, and
our Hands have handled That which we have fern
and heard declare we unto you.
I have explained this fourth Mark, because the Author of the Detection, either wilfully, or ignorantly, seems not to understand it. And this alone overthrows all the Stories he has told, which he would make a Parallel to the Facts of Moss, and of Christ; and there. fore alleges that they have ail these four Marks. But he must begin again, and own that these four Marks still stand an irrefragable Proof of the Truth of any Fact which has them all; till he can produce a Bioi ...... D . which vhich was wrote by the-Actors or Eye-Witnesses of the Fails it relates, and shew, that such Fails, having the ether tbrte Marks, have been detected to he false. Which when he can do, 1 will give him up these sour Marks as an insusficient Proof, and own I was mistaken in them. But hitherto they have stood the Test; for he himself will not say, he has produced any such Book in all his Detection.
If he says, that Fails may be true, tho' no such Booi can be produced for them, and tho' they have not all the aforesaid Marks; I will easily grant it. But all I contend for is, that whatever Fact has all these four Marks cannot he false: For example: Could Moses have persuaded Six hundred thousand Men that he had led them through the See, in the Manner related in Exodus, if it had not been true? If he could, it would have been a greater Miracle than the other. The like of their being sed forty Years in the Wilderness, without Bread, by Manna rained down to them from Heaven. The like of Christ's seeding Five thousand at a Time with sive Loaves. And so of all the rest. The twt trst Marks secure from any Cheat or Imposture at the Time the Facts were done: And the two last Marks secure equally from any Impofition in After-Ages; because this Book, which relates these Facts, speaks of itself a» written at that Time, by the Actors or Eye-Witnejses; and as commanded by God to be carefully kept and preserved to all Generations, and read publickly to all the People at stated Times, as is commanded, Deut. xxxi. lo, 11,12. And was practised, Josh. viii. 34, 3c. Neb. viii. &c. And the Institutions, appointed in thi* Book, were to be perpetually observed from the Day of the Institution for ever among these People, in Memory of the Facts; as the Pafsov:r, Exod. xii.; and so of the reft. Now suppose this Book to have been forged a thousand Years after Moses, would not every one say, when it sirst appeared, We never heard of this Book before, we know of no such Institutions, as of a Passover, er Circumcision, or Sabbaths, and the many Feasts and Fasts therein appointed, of a Tribe of Levi, and a 7a4 bernaclt bernacle, wherein they were to serve in such an Order. of Priesthood, &c. Therefore this Book must be an errant Forgery; for it wants all those Marks it gives of itself, as to its own Continuance, and of those Institutions it relates? No Instance can be shewn, since the World began, of any Book, so circumstantiated, that was a Forgery upon any People: I think it impossible ; and therefore that the/our Marks are still an invincible Proof of the Truth of that Book, and those Fails wherein all these Marks do meet.
But, since I am come upon this Subject again, I will endeavour to improve it, and give four other Marks; some of which no Fail, however true, ever had, or can have, but the Fail of Christ a'one. Thus while I support the Fail of Moses, I set that of Christ above him, as the Lord is above the Servant. And the Jiws being herein principally concerned, I will consider their Case likewise as we go along . Therefore I add this sifth Mark, as peculiar to our Bible, and to distinguish it from all other Histories which relate Fails formerly done.
V. That the Book, which relates the Fails, contains likewise the Laiv of that People to whom it belongs, and be their Statute-Book by which their Caases are determined. This will make it impossible for any to coin ox forge such a Book, so as to make it pass upon any People: For example: If I should/or^ a Statute-Book for England, and publish it next Term, could 1 make all the Judges, Lawyers, and People, believe, that this was their true and only Statute Book, by which their Causes had been determined thtfe many hundred Years past? They must forget their old Statute-Book, and belijve that this new Book, which they never saw or heard of before, was the fame old Book which has been pleaded in Westminster-Hall for so many Ages, which has been so often printed, and the Originals of which are now kept in the Tower, to be consulted as there is Occasion.
De. I grant that to be impossible. But how do you apply it?
D x Chr