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been trump'd upon us, interpolated and corrupted, fo that no Stress can be laid upon them, tho' it cannot be Thewn wherein they are so corrupted; which, in Reason, ought to lie upon them to prove, who allege it; otherwise it is not only a precarious, but a guilty Plea : And the more, that they refrain not to quote Books on their Side, for whose Authority there are no better, or not so good Grounds. However, you say it makes your Disputes. endless, and they go away with Noise and Clamour, and a Boaft, That there is nothing, at least nothing certain, to be said on the Chriftian Side: 'Therefore you are desirous to find some one Topic of Reason,which should demonstrate the Truth of the ChriStian Religion, and, at the same time, distinguish it from the Impostures of Mahomet, and the old Pagan World; that our Deifts may be brought to this Teft, and be either obligd to renounce their Reason, and the common Reason of Mankind, or submit to the clear Proof, from Reason, of the Christian Religion ; which must be such a Proof as no Imposture can pretend to; otherwise it cannot prove the Christian Religion not to be an Impofture. And whether such a Proof, one single Proof (to avoid Confusion) is not to be found out, you desire to know from me.
And you say, that you cannot imagine but there must be such a Proof, because every Truth is in itself clear, and one ; and therefore that one Reason for it, if it be the true Reason, must be sufficient : And, if sufficient, it is better than many; For Multiplicity confounds, especially to weak Judgments.
Sir, you have impos'd an hard Talk upon me; I wish I could perform it: For tho' every Truth is one, yet our Sight is so feeble, that we cannot (always) come to it directly, but by many Inferences, and laying of things together.
But I think that in the Case before us, there is such a Proof as you require; and I will set it down as short and plain as I can,
II. First then I suppose, that the Truth of the Doetrine of CHRIST will be sufficiently evinced, if the
Matters of Fact which are recorded of him in the GOP pels be true; for his Miracles, if true, do vouch the Truth of what he delivered.
The same is to be said as to Mofes ; If he brought the Children of Israel through the Red-Sea, in that miraculous manner which is related in Exodus, and did such other wonderful things as are there told of him, it must necessarily follow, that he was sent from GOD; these being the strongest Proofs we can defire, and which every Deift will confess he would acquiesce in, if he saw them with his Eyes. Therefore the Stress of this Cause will depend upon the Proof of these Matters of Faet.
I. And the Method I will take, is, First, to lay down fuch Rules, as to the Truth of Matters of Fat in genesal, that where they all meet, such Matters of Fact cannot be falfe. And then, Secondly, to thew that all these Rules do meet in the Matters of Fact of Moses, and of Christ; and that they do not meet in the Matters of Fact of Mahomet, of the Heathen Deities, or can possia bly meet in any Imposture whatsoever.
2. The Rules are these; ift, That the Matter of Fact be such as that Mens outward Senses, their Eyes and Ears, may be Judges of it. 2. That it be done Publickly in the Face of the World. 3. That not only publick Monuments be kept up in Memory of it, but some outward Actions be performed. That such Monuments and fuch A&tions or Observances be instituted, and do commence, from the time that the Matter of Fact was done.
3. The two first Rules make it impoflible for any such Matter of Faet to be imposed upon Men, at the Time when such Matter of Faet was said to be done ; because every Man's Eyes and Senses would contradict it. For Example: Suppose any Man should pretend that Yesterday he divided the Thames, in Presence of all the People of London, and carried the whole City, Men, Women, and Children, over to Southwark, on dry Land, the Waters standing like Walls on both Sides: I say it is morally impoflible that he could persuade the People of London that this was true, when every Man,
Woman, and Child, could contradict him, and say, That this was a notorious Falsehood, for that they had not seen the Thomes fo divided, or had gone over on dry Land. Therefore I take it for granted, (and, I fuppose with the Allowance of all the Deists in the World) that no such Imposition could be put upon Men at the Time when such publick Matter of Fact was said to be done.
4. Therefore it only remains that such Matter of Fast might be invented some time after, when the Men of that Generation wherein the thing was said to be done are all past and gone; and the Credulity of AfterAges might be impos'd upon to believe that things were done in former Ages, which were not.
And for this, the two last Rules secure us as much as the two first Rules in the former Cafe: For whenever such a Matter of Faet came to be invented, if not only Monuments were said to remain of it, but likewise that publick Actions and Observances were constantly used ever since the Matter of Fact was said to be done, the Deceit must be detected, by no such Monuments appearing, and by the Experience of every Man, Woman, and Child, who must know that no such Actions or Observances were ever us’d by them. For Example : Sup. pose I should now invent a Story of such a thing done à thousand Years ago, I might, perhaps, get some to believe it: But if I say, that not only such a thing was done, but that, from that Day to this, every Man, at the Age of twelve Years, had a Joint of his little Finger cut off, and that every Man in the Nation did want a Joint of such a Finger, and that this Institution was said to be Part of the Matter of the Faet done so many Years ago, and vouch'd as a Proof and Confirmation of it, and as having descended, without Interruption, and been constantly practis'd, in Memory of such Matter of Fatt, all along from the time that such Matter of Fast was done ; I say, it is impossible I should be believ'd in such a Case; because every one could contradict me, as to the Mark of cutting off a Joint of the Finger ; and
(71 that being part of my original Matter of Fall, muit demonstrate the whole to be false.
III. Let us now come to the Second Point, to Mew, that the Matters of Faet of Moses and of Christ have all these Rules or Marks before-mentioned ; and that neither the Matters of Faet of Mahomet, or what is reported of the Heathen Deities, have the like; and that no Imposture can have them all.
1. As to Mofes, I suppose it will be allowed me, that he could not have persuaded 600,000 Men that he had brought them out of Egypt, through the Red-Sea, fed them 40 Years without Bread, by miraculous Manna, and the other Matters of Fa£t recorded in his Books, if they had not been true; because every Man's Senses, that were then alive, must have contradicted it. And therefore he must have impos'd upon all their Senses, if he could have made them believe it when it was false, and no such things done. So that here are the first and second of the above-mentioned four Marks.
For the same Reason, it was equally impossible for him to have made them receive his five Books as Truth, and not to have rejected them, as a manifest Imposture, which told of all these things as done before their Eyes, if they had not been so done. See how positively he speaks to them. Deut. xi. 2. to ves 8. And kuow you this Day: For I speak not with your Chil. dren, which have not known, and which have not seen the Chastisement of the Lord your God, his Greatnss
, his mighty Hand, and his stretched out Arm, and his Miracles, and bis Aets which he did in the midst of Egypt, unto Pharaoh the King of Egypt, and unto all his Land, and what he did unto the Army of Egypt, unto their Horses and to their Chariots, how he made the Water of the Red-Sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this Day: And what he did unto you in the Wilderness, until ye came into this place: And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram the Sons of Eliab, the Son of Reuben, how the Earth opened her Mouth and swallowed them up, and their Housholds, and their Tents, and all the Substance that was in their Poffeffion, in the midst of all
Ifrael. But your Eyes have seen all the great Acts of the Lord, which he did, &c.
From hence we may suppose it impossible that these Books of Mofes (if an Impofture) could have been invented and put upon the People, who were then alive when all these Things were said to be done.
The utmost therefore that even a Suppose can stretch to, is, that these Books were wrote in some Age after Mofes, and put out in his Name.
And to this I say, that if it was so, it was impossible that those Books should have been receiv'd as the Books of Moses, in that Age wherein they may be suppos’d to have been first invented. Why? Because they speak of themselves as deliver'd by Moses, and kept in the Ark from his time. And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing the Words of this Law in a Book, until they were finished, that Mofes commanded the Levites who bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this Book of the Law, and put it in the Side of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a Witness against thee. Deut. xxxi. 24, 25, 26. And there was a copy of this Book to be left likewise with the King. And it shall be, when he fitteth upon the Throne of his Kingdom, that he hall write him a Copy of this Law in a Book, out of that which is before the Priests the Levites : And it shall be with him, and he Jall read therein all the Days of his Life: That he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the Words of this Law and these statutes to do them. Deut. xvii. 18,
you see than this Book of the Law speaks of itself fivc oniy as an History or Relation of what Things were then done, but as the fianding and municipal Law and Statutes of the Nation of the Juws, binding the King as well as the People.
Now, in whatever Age after Moses you will suppose this Book to have been forged, it was impossible it could have been received as Truth; because it was not then to be found, either in the Ark, or with the King, or anywhere else ; for, when first invented, every body must know that they had never heard of it before.