« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
sight to him "that was born blind;" have fed five thousand hungry guests with "five loaves and two fishes;" or have raised one, who had been "four days buried," from his grave?
When then we add to this, that none of the Jewish or Roman persecutors of Christianity, to whom its first teachers frequently referred as witnesses of those facts, ever ventured to deny them; that no apostate disciple, under the fear of punishment or the hope of reward (not even the artful and accomplished Julian himself), ever pretended to detect them; that neither learning nor ingenuity, in the long lapse of eighteen hundred years, have been able to show their falsehood; though, for the first three centuries after their promulgation, the civil government strongly stimulated hostile inquiry; and that their original relators, after lives of unintermitted hardship, joyfully incurred death in defence of their truth-we can scarcely imagine the possibility of a more perfect, or more abundant, demonstration.
It now rests with the Deists, if they would vindicate their claim to the self-bestowed title of Men of Reason, to adduce some matters of fact of former ages, which they allow to be true, possessing evidence superior, or even similar to those of Christ. This, however, it must at the same time be observed, would be far from proving the matters of fact of Christ to be false; but certainly, without this, they cannot reasonably assert that their own facts alone, so much more unfavourably circumstanced with regard to testimony, are true.
Let them, therefore, produce their Cæsar, or their Mahomet,
(I.) Performing a fact, of which men's outward senses can judge.
(II.) Publicly, in the presence of witnesses; (III.) In memory of which public monuments and actions are kept up,
(IV.) Instituted and commencing at the time of the fact:
(V.) Recorded likewise in a set of books, addressed to the identical people before whom it was performed, and containing their whole code of Civil and Ecclesiastical Law;
(VI.) As the work of one, previously announced for that very period by a long train of Prophecies,
(VII.) And still more peculiarly prefigured by Types, both of a circumstantial and a personal nature, from the earliest ages; and, lastly,
(VIII.) Of such a character, as made it impossible for either the relators or hearers to believe it, if false, without supposing an universal deception of the senses of mankind :—
Again-Let them display in its relators, themselves too eye-witnesses of the fact, the same proofs of veracity, evinced by an equally patient endurance of distress and death in its support ; and in some doctrine founded upon it (as unpopular in its outset, and in its progress as little aided by arms, or learning, or oratory, or intrigue, the same triumph over the united prejudices and passions of mankind :—
Finally-Let them exhibit among its believers (unbiassed by any supposed professional partiality) the minutely-investigating spirit of a Boyle, the profound understanding of a Locke, the dispassionate reason of an Addison, the discriminating
judgment of a Hale, the sublime intellect of a Milton, and the only-not-divine sagacity of a Newton :
Or LET THEM SUBMIT TO THE IRResistible CERTAINTY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.