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CHAP." Revelation itself, fo neither can there be any VXIII "of its Conveyance to Pofterity; much lefs "that this or that has been convey'd entire to "diftant Times and Places."-"Nay the very "Nature of Probability is fuch, that were it " left to Time itself, even that would wear it quite out*, at leaft if it be true, what Ma"thematians pretend to demonftrate, viz. "That the Probability of Facts, depending upon "human Teftimony, muft gradually leffen in "proportion to the Diftance of Time when "they were done."


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THE first supposes, there is no Certainty fufficient to affure us of the Truth of the Chriftian Religion, less than Eye-fight of Miracles and Signs. The fecond fuppofes, there is no Foun dation for believing it, but only Probability; the Nature of which, he fays, is fuch, that the Progrefs of Time will wear it quite out. In anfwer to both, I fhew,

I. THAT the Evidence of our Faith is built upon moral Certainty.

2. THAT that Certainty does not in the leaft diminish by Progrefs of Time.

THE Abfurdities that overtake the first Suppofition are so many, and fo flagrant, that the bare mention of fome of them is fufficient to expose the Futility of fuch an Objection. In order to make Chriftians, or make them certain of their Faith, it fuppofes, that Chrift ought to live and die, rife again and work Miracles every Age, in every Country, in every * *. 163.


City or Town in the World fucceffively; or, atCHAP. leaft, that the Apoftles and Meffengers of that XVIIL Faith muft continue fo to do, to evince the Certainty of it; which is to deftroy the very End and Ufe of Miracles. A ftrange Demand from a Deift! who all agree to make a Jeft of the Teftimony of Miracles, and yet infift upon them. Ridiculous Perverfeness in Perfection!

THE Sight of Miracles, particularly that great one, Christ risen from the Dead, is, by Implication, affirm'd in the Record of them to be infallible Proofs; and they undoubtedly are fo. The Conviction they bring to the Beholder is fo roufing, and in a manner irrefiftible; that, one would imagine, they could never fail of neceffitating Affent to the Truth of the Doctrines they were brought to prove; yet we know, fome of the Beholders of many of them, rather than receive the Doctrines, abfurdly imputed that very Proof to a quite different Author, the greatest Adverfary to the Doctrines in the World. And if fuch a Proof is refiftible, it follows, that Miracles feen work Conviction only in a moral Way; and that Miracles believ'd and undenied as to the Matter of Fact of them, foon after they were seen, and fo to the End of the World, will produce no Conviction upon thofe who will not embrace the Doctrines; and that Evafions against that Teftimony, tho' never fo undeniable, will ever be offer'd by fuch, in excufe for not embracing.

THIS is notorious with respect to Celfus, Julian, Porphyry, bitter, potent, learned Enemies of the Chriftian Doctrine. They acknowledg'd the Matter of Fact of fuch being really wrought,


CHAP. and were no Impofture, in those who testified XVIII, the Faith; yet had no effect, nor ever will have upon any refolv❜d Enemy to fuch Doctrines, determin'd to continue bad, because they are too good and contrary to them, to be receiv'd. Therefore it need not be added, that if the Truth of thofe Miracles could not be objected to, then, when the Circumftances of Time, Perfons, Places were all recent, and no Opportunity nor Ability wanting to have detected the Forgery, they must remain undeniable and invincible to all Ages after. How abfurd therefore is that Sceptical Infinuation, "There being at prefent no immediate Teftimony of Miracle or Sign in behalf of holy Writ-That the boly Records themselves were no other, than "the pure Invention or artificial Compilement "of an interested Party, in behalf of the richest




Corporation and moft profitable Monopoly "which cou'd be erected in the World." *

NOTHING is probable itself in rerum natura; because every thing really is, or really is not; and therefore naturally certain that it is, or naturally certain that it is not. But with refpect to the Recipient, or judging Faculty, whether the Thing is, or is not, or in fuch Circumstances, or not, the Conveyance of the Truth, and the judging Faculty being both fallible; we cannot have, from the Nature of Things, an infallible Certainty or Demonftration: neverthelefs, we have, at the fame Time, plenty of rational, moral, human Certainty, fuch Evidence as the Nature of the Things is only capable of being proved by: and as it extinguishes and

* Character. Vol. III. 236.

cludes all Doubting, upon the juft Grounds CHAP. and moral Reasons of doubting, is equivalent XVIII. to that Infallibility which belongs not to our Nature; or to that Demonftration, which it is incapable of receiving, in any Thing, but Mathe maticks. So that there may be a moft fufficient, moral, conclufive Certainty, at the fame Time there is an understanding Faculty naturally falli ble, and a natural Poffibility that the Thing may be otherwife.

THIS is evidently the Spring of all human Action, either with refpect to this World, or the next, in regard to every thing we don't fee ourfelves; and yet at the fame Time, there is all moral Affurance, full Certainty and imputed Subftance of the Things themselves; and fo their Affections, and Relations to us, and our Morals, become certain. Confequently, Faith is a Virtue, because it is an Affent, not from Sight, but Reason, upon Argument morally perfuafive; that it need not, ought not, cannot always be upon Sight, and yet is nevertheless as true and certain in the Eye of Reafon, in every moral Agent, as if it was. And is more commendable and rewardable for being founded in Reafon; Blessed are they who have not feen and yet bave believed. A Conviction from the Evidence of Reason is more valuable in the Sight of God, than that from Sense; and this standing Argument, ever the fame, of the ever enduring Gofpel, is more worthy of its perpetual Dignity, and its univerfal Importance, than the fenfible temporary Proofs of it. The fuperior Bleffing of believing without feeing, throws the Argument of all future Belief out of the Teftimony of Senfe, into the more human Teftimony VOL. II.



CHAP. of divine History and the Evidence of Reason
XVIII. thereupon.

AND confequently it must be a very idle Liftening, and incogitant Credulity to imagine, that any after Apparition from the Dead fhould ever be able to make that certainer than our Lord ever intended it fhould be, to future Generations; or, that it can be any thing less than a Disparagement to him, and his Gofpel, to be willing to call in a-fresh the Evidence of Senfe, after that had been fo irrefragably establish'd by his own Refurrection from the Dead; and he has determin'd, and given the Preference, in addreffing and limiting the Perfuafion of his Gofpel to the reasoning, more than to the feeing Faculties of his Chriftians. Was an Apparition from the Dead in every Age and Place, any Divine Argument of a future State, where there is a standing Revelation, not only of Mofes and the Prophets, but of Chrift and his Apoftles, every Chriftian has a Right to expect it: But as they are forbid to expect it, there is the lefs Reason for any to pretend to thofe officious Proofs, or for others to believe the Report.

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THE Virtue of believing confifts in being morally, and therefore dutifully, fatisfied of the Truth of Things not cognizable to our personal Senfes, which concern us as moral Agents; and moft moral Truths are of this Nature. Mathematical Demonftration fhews the Subject of its Science to be true, from the Impoffibility of its being otherwise. What Thanks, what Virtue in believing what one can't help, or hinder believing? But as the Will can, and does help or hinder believing in the other Cafe, Unbelief is a


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