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against all the pains and terrors of death. And you also may know, that this gospel is the gospel of Christ, and consequently that these wonderful effects, which so apparently carry a Divine signature upon them, are produced by him. All these things, and others of a like nature which might be mentioned, are immediately open to your view, most visible and certain; and one would think, that these alone would satisfy the mind of a serious and impartial inquirer into the truth of christianity; and especially when these are accompanied with such other credentials of our hol religion, which (though not so directly in view, o, by necessary consequence, give us the same assurance and certainty of the truth. But it is time I should come more directly to answer the objection; and to show you, how it may by necessary consequence, be known, that the facts upon which christianity principally depends are certainly true. You yourself must own, it is impossible that those doctrines can be false, which are attested by so many and such kind of miracles, as are said to be wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. For God cannot set his seal to a lie, nor confirm a horrible imposture by his immediate attestation from heaven. You must own, that it is impossible for the apostles and other witnesses of these miraculous operations to be themselves deceived, while they had all the means of certainty in the case before us, that ever any man had in any case whatsoever. You must likewise own, that it is impossible for a great number of sober, judicious, and apparently honest men, to spend their lives in a continual conspiracy against their own ease, comfort, honour, life, and eternal welfare, for no other motive but to deceive the world, and bring eternal ruin upon themselves and their fellow-creatures; as these must have done, if they knew those facts to be false, which they published at their peril, and sealed with their blood. You must also own, that it was impossible to deceive the world about them, at the time when these facts were done, by reporting, that such miraculous operations were openly performed before them all, which none of them knew any thing about. You will certainly own, it is impossible that they could deceive the churches to whom they wrote, by vain pretences, that each one of these had themselves the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, such as tongues, miracles, healing, prophecy, and the like, when every one of them knew that there was nothing in it. You must in like manner own it impossible for such multitudes of people, for so long a course of time, to be imposed upon by pretences of miraculous operations; and none of them ever detect the imposture so much as in one single instance, while all of them had the opportunity of doing it when they pleased, if the facts had not been true. Can you imagine it any ways possible, that such multitudes, in the first ages of christianity, in such distant countries and nations, should conspire together to acknowledge these facts, and the doctrines founded on them, at the peril of their lives; and no man amon these professors themselves, or among the heretics an apostates that fell away from them, should discover the fraud, either living or dying? You will certainly own it utterly impossible, that so many thousands, in so many lands, could with joy and cheerfulness submit to such poor and afflicted lives, and to such cruel and barbarous deaths, as were the common lot of the first christians, in confirmation of a religion founded upon facts which they knew to be false.
And you must acknowledge it also altogether impossible, at any time after these facts were pretended to be done, to palm the history of them upon the world, if it was false; and to persuade so many nations to receive it for truth. It were impossible to persuade any nations, and much more all the early nations of christendom, that at some distant forgotten age there were a number of men that came among them, taught them the doctrines of christianity, confirmed the same by miracles, baptized them into the faith, and established a settled order of the ministry in their churches: from which time, they have all of them professed the christian faith; had the New Testament in their hands; and enjoyed a continued succession of ministers and ordinances.
To this I may add, that it is absolutely impossible, at any one time, to have obtruded the inspired writings upon the world, if they were indeed spurious; and to have made all the christian nations believe, that these were written in the apostolic age, speedily translated into divers languages, publicly kept, and publicly read and preached in their churches; that they, and their fathers before them, had always reverenced and esteemed them as the rule of their lives, and their guide to eternal happiness. What success, but scorn and derision, could be hoped for from such an attempt?
I may once more subjoin to all this, that it is at least highly improbable, that the early writers against christianity should never deny these facts, if they were not notoriously true, when they could not want advantages to detect any fraud or deceit that can possibly be supposed in a case of this kind. And it is yet more improbable, that any of the adversaries of christianity should confirm the truth of these facts, as we find some of them do, if they had not been most apparently and undoubtedly true.
And now, sir, what can be wanting, what can you demand or desire more, to confirm you in the faith of christianity? It is established upon the veracity of God himself; upon those facts, by which he has from heaven attested to the truth of it; and these facts are verified by evidences which cannot possibly deceive us. By believing, therefore, we set to our seal that God is true: but he that believeth not maketh him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
You may perhaps tell me, that if you had seen these miracles yourself, you would have believed them. But has not every body else the same claim to this sort of satisfaction as you ; and the same reason to desire to be eye and ear witnesses of such miraculous operations? At this rate, miracles would cease to be miraculous; they would become common and familiar things; and no longer strike the mind with any conviction at all, any more than the ebbing and flowing of the sea, the rising and setting of the sun, or any other such displays of the Divine power, in the common course of providence.
Upon the whole, there is no evidence wanting, and the unbeliever is left inexcusable. There is evidence every way sufficient to satisfy the mind of an impartial inquirer after truth. And it is impossible for any man in the world to imagine any means of confirmation in this important truth, superior to what is herein set before you. How unreasonable would it therefore be, to require more evidence in a case wherein we have already as much as we are possibly capable to receive P That it may be effectual to establish you in the faith, is, and shall be, the prayer of,
whereIN AN HISTORICAL Account OF THE BIRTH, LIFE, PASSION, RESURRECTION, ASCENSION, AND FUTURE KINGDOM OF OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR, IS COLLECTED FROM THE PROPHECIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
SIR, I REJoice to hear from you, that any endeavours of mine have contributed in the least towards your satisfaction. I am thereby the more encouraged to hope, that your remaining difficulties may easily be obviated; and particularly, that it will not prove difficult to answer your present demand—to show you “how you may certainly know that the prophecies of the Old Testament had a direct reference to Jesus Christ.” You may know this by the exact agreement of the event with the prediction. That this, therefore, may be set before you in a proper light, I will endeavour to give you (in the form of a history) a brief representation of our blessed Saviour, gathered from the Old Testament; and leave you to compare this with the narrative of him in the New. If these agree, you thereby have a certain discovery of the Divine original of these prophecies; since none but an omniscient mind could possibly foresee these events. And you have likewise the same certainty, that Jesus Christ is the predicted Messiah, and that his mission is Divine, since what was foretold of the Messiah in the prophecy is fulfilled in him.
The time of the manifestation of this glorious Person, whom I am now to describe, was during the