« السابقةمتابعة »
those passages, which we daily commemorate; and to persuade us, that we had always kept such institutions in memory of what we never heard of before; that is, that we knew it, before we knew it!
And, if we find it thus impossible for an imposition to be put upon us, even in some things, which have not all the four marks, before mentioned; how much more impossible is it, that any deceit should be in that thing, where all the four marks do meet !
This has been showed, in the first place, as to the matters of fact of Moses.
2. Therefore I come now (secondly) to show that, as in the matters of fact of Moses, so likewise all these four marks do meet in the matters of fact, which are recorded in the Gospel of our blessed SAVIOUR; and my work herein will be the shorter, because all, that is said before of MOSES and his books, is every way as applicable to CHRIST and his Gospel. His works and miracles are there said to be done publicly in the face of the world, as he argued to his accusers, "I spake openly to the world and in secret have I said nothing." It is told, that three thousand at one time, and that above five thousand at another time were converted, upon conviction of what themselves had seen, what had been done publicly before their eyes, wherein it was impossible to have imposed upon them. Therefore here were the two first of the rules before mentioned.
Then for the two second; Baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted, as perpetual
memorials of these things; and they were not instituted in after ages, but at the very time, when these things were said to be done; and have been observed without interruption in all ages through the whole Christian world from that time to this. And CHRIST himself did ordain apostles and other ministers of his Gospel, to preach, and to administer these sacraments; and to govern his church; and that always, even unto the end of the world. Accordingly they have continued by regular succession to this day; and, no doubt, ever will, while the earth shall last. So that the Christian clergy are as notorious a matter of fact, as the tribe of Levi among the Jews. And the Gospel is as much
a law to Christians, as the book of Moses to the Jews; and it being part of the matters of fact, related in the Gospel, that such an order of men were appointed by CHRIST, and to continue to the end of the world; consequently, if the Gospel were a fiction, and invented some ages after CHRIST; then at that time, when it was first invented, there could be no such order of clergy, as derived themselves from the institution of CHRIST; which must give the lie to the Gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false. And the matters of fact of CHRIST being pressed to be true no otherwise, than as there was at that time (whenever the Deists will suppose the Gospel to be forged) not only public sacraments of CHRIST's institution, but an order of clergy likewise of his appointment to administer them ¿ and it being impossible, there could be any such things before they were in
vented; it is as impossible, that they should be received, when invented. Therefore, by what is said above, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this matter, by inventing it in after ages, as at the time when those things were said to be done.
3. The matters of fact of Mahomet, or what is fabled of the deities, do all want some of the aforesaid four rules, whereby the certainty of matters of fact is demonstrated. First, for Mahomet pretended to no miracles, as he tells us in his Alcoran; and those, which are commonly told of him, pass among Mahometans themselves, as legendary fables, and, as such, are rejected by the wise and learned among them ; as the legends of saints are in the church of Rome. See Dr. Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, page 34.
But, in the next place, those, which are told of him, do all want the two first rules before mentioned. For his pretended converse with the moon; his mersa, or night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to Heaven, &c. were not performed before any body. We have only his own word for them; and they are as groundless, as the delusions of Fox or Muggleton among ourselves.
The same is to be said (in the second place) of the fables of the Heathen gods, of Mercury's stealing sheep, Jupiter's turning himself into a bull, and the like; beside the folly and unworthiness of such senseless pretended miracles. Moreover the wise among the heathen did reckon no otherwise of these, than as fables,
which had a mythology, or mystical meaning in them, of which several of them have given us the rationale or explication; and it is plain enough, that Ovid meant no other by all his metamorphoses.
It is true, the heathen deities had their priests; they had likewise their feasts, games, and other public institutions in memory of them. But all these want the fourth mark, viz. that such priesthood and institutions commenced from the time, when such things, as they commemorate, were said to be done; otherwise they cannot secure after ages from imposture, by detecting it at the time, when first invented, as hath been argued before.. But the Bacchanalia, and other heathen feasts were instituted many ages after, what was reported of these gods, was said to be done; and therefore can be no proof of them. And the priests of Bacchus, Apollo, &c. were not ordained by these supposed gods; but were appointed by others, in after ages, only in honor to them. Therefore these orders of priests are no evidence of the facts, which are reported of their gods.
IV. Now, to apply what has been said; you may challenge all the Deists in the world to show any action, that is fabulous, which has all the four rules or marks before mentioned. No, it is impossible; and (to resume a little, what was said before) the histories of Exodus and the Gospel never could have been received, if they had not been true; because the institution of the priesthood of Levi and of CHIRST; of the
Sabbath, of the Passover, of Circumcision, of Baptism, and of the Lord's Supper, &c. are there related, as descending all the way down from those times without interruption. Moreover it is as impossible to persuade men, that they had been circumcised or baptized, had circumcised or baptized their children, celebrated passovers, sabbaths, sacraments, &c. under the administration of a certain order of priests, if they had done none of these things, as to make them believe that they had gone through seas upon dry land, seen the dead raised, &c; and without believing these it was impossible, that either the law, or the gospel, could have been received.
The truth of the matters of fact of Exodus and the Gospel being no otherwise pressed upon men, than as they have practised such public institutions, it is appealing to the senses of mankind for the truth of them; and makes it impossible for any to have invented such stories in after ages, without a palpable detection of the cheat, when first invented; as impossible, as to have imposed upon the senses of mankind at the time, when such public facts were said to be done.
V. I do not say that every thing, which wants these four marks, false; but that nothing can be false, which has them all. I have no doubt, that there was such a man, as Julius Cæsar, that he fought at Pharsalia, was killed in the senate house, with many other facts of ancient times, though we keep no public observances in memory of them.