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any deceit should be in that thing where all the four marks do meet ?
This has been shewed, in the first place,as to the matters of fact of Moses. Ito !!
2. Tlierefore I come now, secondly, to shew, 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 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. John xviii. 20. It is told, Acts ii. 41. that three thousand at one time'; and, Acts, iv. 4. that above five thousand, at another time, were converted, upon conviction of what themselves had seen,what had been done publicly be fore 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 insti. tuted 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; down all the way, from that time to this. And Christ himself did ordain apostles, and other ministers of his gospel, to preach, & administer these sacnaments, and to govern his church ; and that al
ways, even unto the end of the world.* Accordingly they have continued by regular succes. sion, to this day ; and, no doubt, ever shall, while the earth shall last. So that the Christian clergy are as notorious a matter of fact, as tlie tribe of Levi among thc Jews. And the gospel is as niuch a law to the 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 was a fiction, and invented (as it must be) in 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 invented, it is as impossible that they should be received-when invented. And therefore, by what was said above, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this matter, by inventing of it in after ages,as at that time when those things were said to be done.
3. The matters of fact of Mahomet, or what is fabled of the Heathen deities,do all want some
Matthew xxviii. 20.
of the aforesaid four rules, whereby the certain. ty of matters of fact is demonstrated. Eirst, For Mahomet; he pretended to no miracles, as he confesses in his alcoran, chap. 6, &C. and those which are commonly told of him, pass among the Maliometans themselves but as legendary fables; and as such, are rejected by the wise and learned among them ; just as the legends of their saints are, in the church of Rome. -See Dr. Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 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 : besides the folly and unworthiness of such senseless pretended miracles. And moreover, the wise among the Heathen did reckon no otherwise of these but 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 feasts, games, and other public institutions in memory of them.-
<But all these want the fourth mark, viz. That such priesthood and institutions should commence from the time that such things as they commemorate were said to be done ; otherwise, they cannot secure after ages from the imposture, by detecting it at the time when first invented,a6 hath been argued before. But the Bachanalia, 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 of them. And therefore, these orders of priests, are no evidence to the truth of the matters of fact which are reported of their gods.
IV. Now to apply what has been said, you may challenge all the Deists in the world to shew 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 is spoke to before, the histories of Exodus, and the gospel, could never have been received, if they had not been true; because the institution of the priesthood of Levi, and of Christ, of the sabbath, the passover, of circumcision, of baptism, and the Lord's supper, &c. are there related, as descending all the way down from those times, without interruption. And it is full as impossible to persuade men that they had been circumcised, baptized, had circumcised, or baptized their children, celebrated passovers, .sabbaths, sacraments, &c. under the government and 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 of these, it was impossible that either the law or the gospel.could have been received.
And 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 matters of fact were said to be done.
V. I do not say, that every thing which wants these four marks, is false ; but, that nothing can be false which includes them all.
There is no manner of doubt that there was such a man as Julius Cæsar--that he fought at Pharsalia, was killed in the senate-house; and many other matters of fact of ancient times, though we keep no public observances in mem. ory of them.
But this shews, that the matters of fact of Moses, and those of Christ, have come down to us better guarded than any other matters of fact, how true soever. * [GLORY TO GOD!]
And yet our Deists, who would laugh any
What must be the guilt of a determined Deist! Oh, that the terrific words of a gentle Saviour, might reach such men !---' Te ** Vipers, HOW CAN ye escape the damnation of Hell !"