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others, because the Chriftian confirms it and we believe the Chriftian, chiefly upon the full Proof, which Chrift and his Apoftles have given of it. They who saw him, with their own Eyes, perform Things which Man could not do; and heard him, with their own Ears, foretell Things, which Man could not foreknow, and yet experienced them to come to pafs: as for inftance, his healing great Numbers of fick Perfons with a Word, and raising himself from the dead: they must be fure, that fome Power attended him more than human. And fince his Doctrines all promoted the fpiritual Worship and Honour of the one true God, and Virtue and Happiness among Men: they must be fure alfo, that this Power was not that of an evil Spirit, but of a good one: and confequently, that he came from God, and taught his Will. If then it be true, that he did, in their Prefence, not only deliver fuch Doctrine, but foretell and perform fuch Things; then their Faith was reasonable, and ours is fo too. Now they do in the ftrongest Manner affirm this; as you may read throughout the Gofpels and Acts and why are they not to be credited? They could not every one of them be mistaken in it all; and think they faw and heard, Day after Day, and Year after Year, Things which they did not, any more than we can be mistaken in every Thing that we fee and hear continually. Befides they affirm, that they were enabled to do the fame Wonders themselves, and enabled others to do them. All this could not be Mistake too.
And as they could not be deceived in these Points, fo neither could they intend to deceive Mankind. There is all the Appearance in the World of their being fair and honeft Perfons, that would not deceive for Intereft. But befides, what they affirmed was abfolutely against their Intereft. It expofed them, as they could not but imagine it would, to Reproach, Imprisonment, Stripes, Death itself. Yet all thefe Things they underwent patiently, one after another, through a Courfe of many Years, for the Sake of what they taught; none of them B 6 all
all confeffing, or being convicted of any Falfhood: which yet they must have been, had they been guilty of any for the Things, which they affirmed, were many, indeed most of them, done publicly and all the Power, and all the Learning, of the World were employed against them, from the first, to detect them, if poffible. Yet no body pretends, or ever did pretend, that they were detected. Befides, if any fuch Discovery had been made, their whole Scheme must have been ruined immediately whereas, instead of that, they fpread their Religion (though it was contrary to the established Superftitions, the deep-rooted Prejudices, and favourite Vices, of all Mankind) through the whole Earth, within a few Years, by mere Force of Miracles, and Arguments, and Innocence, against all Oppofition. Thefe Things furely are Proofs fufficient of our Saviour's coming from God, without faying any Thing of the Prophecies of the Old Teftament, fo many of which were fo clearly fulfilled in him.
But then, as all the Facts hitherto mentioned are ancient ones; it may be asked farther, How can we now be fure of the Truth of what is faid to have been done fo many Ages ago? I anfwer, By all the fame Means, which can affure us of any other ancient Fact. And there are Multitudes of much ancienter, which no body hath the leaft Doubt of; and it would be reckoned Madness, if they had. The Miracles of Chrift and his Apoftles are recorded in the New Teftament: a Book very fully proved, and indeed, acknowledged, to be, the greatest Part of it, written by the Apoftles themselves; and the reft, in their Days, by their Direction: and no one material Fact of it is, or ever was, fo far as we can learn, oppofed by any contrary Evidence, whatfoever. Then, that vaft Numbers of Perfons were converted to this Religion, as they declared, by feeing these Miracles, and vaft Numbers more, by the Accounts, which they received of them; and perfevered in their Faith, against all worldly Difcouragements, till at length it became the prevailing
one; appears partly from the New Teftament alfo, partly from other Books of acknowledged Authority, written in that Age and the following ones, by Heathens and Jews, as well as Chriftians; and indeed is in the main univerfally owned and notorious.
But fuppofing the Facts, on which our Religion is built, to be truly related, yet it may be afked further, How fhall we be fure, that its Doctrines were fo too, in which it is much easier to mistake? I anfwer again: The Doctrines of the Old Teftament are attested and confirmed by the New. And for thofe of the New Teftament; we have our Saviour's own Difcourfes, recorded by two of his Apoftles, Matthew and John, who heard him conftantly, and by two other Perfons, Mark and Luke, who at leaft received them from his conftant Hearers. We have alfo the Difcourfes of his first Disciples after his Refurrection, recorded in the Acts: we have befides, many Letters written by them, the Epiftles, fent on feveral Occafions, for the Inftruction of feveral new planted Churches. Now all these agree in the fame Doctrine. But further, which adds ineftimable Value to what they have faid and written, our Lord himself promised them, that the Spirit of God fhould teach them all Things, and bring all Things to their Remembrance, whatever he had faid unto them; fhould come and abide with them for ever, and guide them into all Truth. And accordingly this Spirit did come, and manifeft his continual Prefence with them by his miraculous Gifts. We have therefore the fulleft Evidence, that both what they have delivered, as from our Saviour, and what they have faid in their own Names, is a true Representation of his Religion.
But another Queftion is, fuppofing the Scripture a true Revelation, fo far as it goes; how fhall we know, if it be a full and complete one too, in all Things neceffary? I anfwer: Since our Saviour had the Spirit John xiv. 26. John xiv. 16, xvi. 13.
without Measure, and the Writers of Scripture had as large a Measure of it, as their Commiffion to inftruct the World required, it is impoffible, that in fo many Difcourfes concerning the Terms of Salvation, as the New Teftament contains, they should all have omitted any one Thing, neceffary to the great End, which they had in View. And what was not neceffary when the Scripture was completed, cannot have become fo fince. For the Faith was once for all delivered in it to the Saints 1· and other Foundation can no Man lay, than what was laid then. The facred Penmen themfelves could teach no other Gospel than Chrift appointed them: ard he hath appointed no one fince to make Additions to it.
In the Books of Scripture then the Doctrines of our Religion are truly and fully conveyed to us and we cannot be fo fure of any other Conveyance. It is a Confirmation of our Faith indeed, that the earliest Chriftian Writers, after thofe of Scripture, in all material Points agree with it. But if they did not, no Writers can have equal Authority with infpired ones. And no unwritten Tradition can long be of any Authority at all. For Things, delivered by Word of Mouth, always vary, more or lefs, in going through but a few Hands. And the World hath experienced, that Articles of Belief, for Want of having Recourse to the written Rule of them, have greatly changed in many Churches of Chriftians: but in few or none more, than that of Rome, which abfurdly pretends to be unchangeable and infallible. It is in the Scripture alone then, that we, who live in thefe later Ages, can be fure of finding the Chriftian Faith preserved, complete and undefiled: and there we may be fure of it.
For as to any Pretence or Fear of thefe Books being corrupted and altered, either by Design or Mistake: had the Old Teftament been depraved in any Thing effential, our Saviour and his Apoftles would have given ♪ Jude 3.
1 Cor. iij 11.
us Notice of it. And for the New, the feveral Parts - of it were so immediately spread through the World, and so constantly read, in public and in private, by all Chriftians; and fo perpetually quoted in all their Difcourfes, and all the Disputes of one Sect with another, that they could not poffibly be changed, by any of them, in any Thing confiderable. For the reft would immediately have difcovered it, and charged them with it, which muft put an End to the Danger. And indeed it is an agreed Point, amongst all who understand these Matters, that nothing of this Kind either hath happened or can happen, fo as to affect any one Article of Faith.
But perhaps it will be alledged, that the Bible was written originally in Languages, which have long been out of common Ufe, and with which but a small Part of Chriftians now are acquainted and how fhall the reft be fure, that we have them rightly tranflated into our own? The plain Anfwer is, that all Tranflations, made by all Parties, agree in moft Places, and those of the moft Importance: and where they difagree, moderate Confideration and Enquiry will enable any Perfons who live in a Country of Knowledge and Freedom, which, God be thanked, is our Cafe, to judge on fome good Grounds, as far as they need judge, which is right, and which is wrong; which is clear, and which is doubtful. Nor doth any Sect of Chriftians pretend to accufe our common Translation of concealing any neceffary Truth, or afferting any deftructive Error.
But fuppofing all this, yet it may be urged, that many Parts of Scripture in our Tranflation, and in the Original too, are dark and obfcure: and how can it then be the Guide and Rule of our Faith? I answer: These are few in Proportion to fuch as are clear: and were they more, the Spirit of God, we may be fure, would make all neceffary Points, in one Part or another, fufficiently clear. These therefore the moft ignorant may learn from Scripture; at leaft by the Help of fuch