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were thrown in, should walk up and down in the bottom of the furnace; and I should see a fourth person with them, of glorious appearance, like the Son of God; and that these men should come up again out of the furnace, with. out any harm, or so much as the smell of fire upon themselves, or their clothes : I could not be deceived, in thinking there was a stop put to the nature of fire, as to these men ; and that it had its effect upon the men whom it burned, at the same time.
Again; though I cannot tell how wonderful and sudden an increase of corn might be procluced by the concurrence of many causes; as a warm climate, the fertility of the soil, &c. yet this I can certainly know, that there is not that natural force in the breath of two or three words spoken, to multiply one small loaf of bread, so fast, in the breaking of it,as truly and really, not enly in appearance and show to the eye, but to fill the bellies of several thousand hungry persons : and that the fragments should be much more than the bread was at first.
So, neither, in a word spoken, to raise the dead, cure diseases, &c. .
Therefore, though we know not the utmost extent of the power of nature; yet we can certainly know what is contrary to the nature of several such things as we do know.
And therefore, though we may be cheated and imposed upon in many seeming miracies and wonders; yet there are some things wherein we may be certain.
But further, the Deists acknowledge a God of an almighty power, who made all things. :)
Yet they would put it out of his power to inake any revelation of his will to mankind. For if we cannot be certain of any miracle, how should we know when God sent any thing extraordinary to us?
Nay, how should we know the ordinary pow. er of nature, if we knew not what exceeded it ? If we know not what is natural, how do we know there is such a thing as Nature? That all is not supernatural, all miracles, and so dispula: ble, till we come to downright scepticism, and doubt the certainty of our outward senses, whether we see, hear, or feel, or all be not a miraculous illusion ?
Which because I know the Deists are not inclined to do, therefore, I will return to pursue my argument, upon the conviction of our out. ward senses ; desiring only this, that they would allow the senses of other 'men to be as certain as their own. Which they cannot re fuse, since without this they can have no certainty of their own.
XI. Therefore, from what has been said, the cause is summed up shortly in this : That though we cannot see what was done before our time ; yet, by the marks which I have laid down concerning the certainty of matters of fact done before our time, we may be as much assured of the truth of them, as if we saw them with our eyes ; because, whatever matter of fact has all the four marks before mentioned, could never have been invented, and received;
but upon the conviction of the outward senses of all those who did receive it; as before de. monstrated. And, therefore, this topic which I have chosen, does stand upon the conviction even of men's outward senses.
And since you
. have confined me to one topic, I have not in, sisted upon the other, which I have only wamed.
XII. And now it lies upon the Deists, if they would appear as men of reason, to shcw some matter of fact of former ages, which they allow. to be true, that has greater evidence of its truth, than the matters of fact of Moses and Christ; as no other matters of fact of those times, how. ever true, have, but these only : and I put it upon them to shew any forgery that has all these marks.
This is a short issue. Keep them close to this. This determines the cause all at once. · Let them produce their Apollonius Tynæus, whose life was put into English by the execrable Charles Blount ;* and compared, with all the wit and malice he was master of, to the life and miracles of our blessed Saviour.
Let them take aid from all the legends in the church of Rome , those pious cheats, the sorest disgraces of Christianity; and which have bid the fairest, of any one contrivance, to overturn the certainty of the miracles of Christ, and his apostles, and the whole truth of the gospel, by putting them all upon the same foot ; at least, they are so understood by the generality of their
Who became bis own executioner.
devotees, though disowned and laughed at by the learned, and men of sense among them.
Let them pick and chuse the most probable of all the fables of the heathen deities; and see if they can find, in any of these, the four marks before mentioned.
Otherwise, let them submit to the irrefragable certainty of the Christian religion.
XIII. But if, notwithstanding of all that, is said, the Deists will still contend, that all this is but priestcraft, the invention of priests, for their own profit, &c. then they will give us an idea of priests far different from what they intend : for then we must look upon these priests, not only as the cunningest and wisest of mankind, but we shall be tempted to adore them as deities, who have such power as to impose, at their pleasure, upon the senses of mankind, to make them believe, that they had practised such public institutions, enacted them by laws, taught them to their children, &c. when they liad never done any of these things, or ever so much as heard of them before : and then, upon the credit of their believing that they had done such things as they never did, to make them further believe, upon the same foundation, whatever they pleased to impose upon them, as to former ages : I say, such a power as this, must exceed all that is human; and, consequently, make us rank these priests far above the condition of mortals.
2. Nay, this were to make them outdo all that has ever been related of the infernal pow15; for though their legerdemaim has extend
ed to deceive some unwary beholders, and their power of working some seeming miracles has been great ; yet it never reached, nor ever was supposed to reach, so far, as to deceive the sen. ses of all mankind, in matters of such public and notorious nature as those of which we now speak : To make them believe, that they had enacted law's for such public observances, continually practised them, taught them to their children, and had been instructed in them them. selves, from their childhood ; if they had never enacted, practised, taught, or been taught such things.
3. And as this exceeds all the power of hell and devils, so is it more than ever God Almighly has done, since the foundation of the world. None of the miracles that he has shown, or be. lief which he has required to any thing that he has revealed, has ever contradicted the outward senses of any one man in the world much less of all mankind together : for, miracles, being appeals to our outward senses, if they should overthrow the certainty of our outward senses, must destroy, with it, all their own certainty, as to us ; since we have no other way to judge of a miracle exhibited to our senses, than upon the supposition of the certainty of our sen. ses, upon which we give credit to a miracle that is shown to our senses.
4. This, by the way, is a yet-unanswered argument against the miracle of transubstantiation and shews the weakness of the defence, which the church of Rome offers for it, (from whom the Socinians have licked it up, and, of late,