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INTRODUCTORY NOTICE

OF

MR LESLIE.

MR CHARLES LESLIE was the son of a Bishop of Clogher, of a good Scottish family; and, as Chancellor of the Diocess of Connor, rendered himself highly obnoxious to the Irish Roman Catholics, by his ardent and able disputations. Want of sympathy, however, in religion, did not alienate his allegiance from his infatuated Sovereign, James II., upon his abdication. He, consequently, lost all his preferments at the Revolution. He afterwards joined the Pretender in France, and accompanied him into Italy, with the avowed purpose of converting him to Protestantism! But, finding his endeavours ineffectual, and his treatment less courteous than he actually expected, he retired to Ireland, and died there in 1722. Two bulky folios were the result of his theological and controversial labours.

In the former of the Tracts here compressed, "the argument is so short and clear, that the meanest capacity may understand it, and so forcible, that no man has yet been found able to resist it. When it was first published, some attempts were made; but they soon came to nothing. It is briefly this:-The Christian religion consists of facts and of doctrines, each depending on the other; so that if the facts are true, the doctrines also must be true. Thus, for example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact; our resurrection is a doctrine: admit the fact, and the doctrine cannot be denied. The ascension of Jesus Christ is another fact; his return to judge the world is a doctrine: if

the fact is true, the doctrine must be so likewise. For (argues an Apostle) if the doctrine is not true, the fact must be false: if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. "Now, the facts are established in this Tract by four incontrovertible marks. "

The above passage is extracted from the preface to an edition of it by the late Rev. W. Jones, who adds (on the authority of the late Dr Berkeley), that " Dr Congers Middleton, feeling how necessary it was to his principles, that he should some way rid himself of Mr Leslie's argument, looked out for some false facts, to which these four marks might be applied, for twenty years together, without success.

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The second Tract contains four additional marks, "such as no other facts, but those of Christ, how true soever (not even those of Moses), either have had, or can have." The former set establish the evidence of the Christian religion, the latter displays its glory.

To those who take this work into their hands, I would offer the following brief warning:-If Christianity be true, it is tremendously true. All the great things which this world can show are as nothing in comparison of it. Heaven and hell are the issue. We have every reason to be, lieve, that its facts yet to come are as certain as those that are past that the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised (1 Cor. xv. 52.), and that every one of us shall give account of himself to God. A man must be stupified, who can seriously think on these things, without anxiously striving to flee from the wrath to come.

In my compendium, I have sought to divest the argument of all extraneous matter, and thus to gain for it the attention of those whom a more prolix or perplexed pamphlet might have fatigued or embarrassed in the perusal. It is gratifying to me to be able to add, that, seven years ago, twelve editions of it, of ten thousand copies each, had been circulated in different parts of the British empire.

SHORT AND EASY METHOD, &c.

DEAR SIR,

"You are desirous, (you inform me) to receive from me some one topic of reason, which shall demonstrate the truth of the Christian Religion, and, at the same time, distinguish it from the impostures of MAHOMET and the Heathen Deities: that our Deists may be brought to this test, and be obliged either to renounce their reason and the common reason of mankind, or to admit the clear proof from reason of the Revelation of CHRIST; which must be such a proof as no imposture can pretend to, otherwise it will not prove Christianity not to be an imposture. And "you cannot but imagine (you add) that there must be such a proof, because every truth is in itself one: and therefore one reason for it, if it be a true reason, must be sufficient; and, if sufficient, better than many: because multiplicity creates confusion, espe cially in weak judgments.

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Sir, you have imposed a hard task upon me; I wish I could perform it. For, though every truth

be one, yet our sight is so feeble that we cannot always come to it directly, but by many inferences and layings of things together. But I think that, in the case before us, there is such a proof as you desire, and I will set it down as shortly and plainly as I can.

I suppose, then, that the truth of the Christian Doctrines will be sufficiently evinced, if the matters of fact recorded of Christ in the Gospels are proved to be true; for his miracles, if true, establish the truth of what he delivered. The same

may be said with regard to Moses. If he led the children of Israel through the Red Sea, and did such other wonderful things as are recorded of him in the book of Exodus, it must necessarily follow that he was sent by God: these being the strongest evidences we can require, and which every Deist will confess he would admit, if he himself had witnessed their performance. So that the stress of this cause will depend upon the proof of the matters of fact.

With a view, therefore, to this proof, I shall proceed,

1. To lay down such Marks, as to the truth of matters of fact in general, that where they all meet, such matters of fact cannot be false; and,

2. To show that they all do meet in the matters of fact of Moses, and of Christ; and do not meet in those reported of Mahomet and of the Heathen Deities, nor can possibly meet in any imposture whatsoever.

1. The Marks are these:

(I.) That the fact be such, as men's outward senses can judge of;

(II.) That it be performed publicly in the presence of witnesses;

(III.) That there be public monuments and actions kept up in memory of it; and,

(IV.) That such monuments and actions be established, and commence at the time of the fact.

The two first of these Marks make it imposible for any false fact to be imposed upon men at the time, when it was said to be done, because every man's senses would contradict it. For example: -Suppose I should pretend that yesterday I divided the Thames, in the presence of all the people of London, and led the whole city over to Southwark on dry land, the water standing like a wall on each side. It would be morally impossible for me to convince the people of London, that this was true; when every man, woman, and child could contradict me, and affirm that they had not seen the Thames so divided, nor been led over to Southwark on dry land. I take it, then, for granted (and, I apprehend, with the allowance of all the Deists in the world) that no such imposition could be put upon mankind at the time, when such matter of fact was said to be done.

"But the fact might be invented, when the men of that generation, in which it was said to be done, were all past and gone; and the credulity of after ages might be induced to believe, that things had been performed in earlier times, which had not!

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From this the two latter Marks secure us, as much as the two first in the former case. For whenever such a fact was invented, if it were stated that not only public monuments of it remained, but likewise that public actions or observances had been kept up in memory of it ever since; the de

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