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that these Prophecies and Miracles are true and effe&ual, and not feigned or insufficient ? I answer, because we have them so related and attested, that, considered barely as Matter of fact, they have all the credibility that any Matter of Fact is capable of, and therefore may as fafely be relied upon, as any thing which we do our felves see or hear. If it be farther urged, that for all this I may be deceived, since all Men are fallible, and no Man is infallibly aflured that there is such a place as Rome who never saw it; tho' no Man neither can any more doubt of it, than he can doubt whether there be any such place as London, who lives in it. I acknowledge, that there is a bare possibility of being deceived in all human Evidence; but yet I deny that we can possibly be deceived in this case, because, though the Evidence it self be human, yet the things which it concerns are of that nature, that God would never suffer the World to be thus long imposed upon in them, without all posfir bility of finding out the Truth. So that here we resolve our Faith into the Divine Authority, by reason of the same Miracles, by reason whereof the Eyewitnesses of them did resolve theirs into it; but they believed these Miracles as seen by themselves, and we believed them as seen and witnessed by others; but both they and we believe them as the Works of God himself.
It might have been alledgʻd, If we had seen those Miracles, that we might possibly be deceived; and so indeed we might, if we could not have securely relied upon God's Truth and Goodness, that they were designed by him to confirm the Doctrine, for the sake of which they were wrought : And we may with equal security rely upon the same Truth and Goodness for the certainty of the History of them, as we could have done for the sufficiency of them to the purpose for which they were wrought, tho? they had been performed in our fight; since it is as
impossible to find out any deceit in the account given of them, as it would have been for us to find any in the Miracles themselves at the time of their performance.
Human Testimony is the conveyance and the means of delivering the Truths contained in the Holy Scriptures down to us; and we, who could neither fee the Miracles nor hear the Doctrines at the first hand, have at this distance of time the truth of them ascertained by a continued successive Testimony, 'till we arrive at such as were immediate Witnesses of them, Now, those that saw and heard all things which are delivered to us in the Scriptures, could not esteem their Senses infallible; but they, notwithstanding, believed our Saviour and his Disciples to be to, of whom yer their Senses only could give them means of assurance, that they were infallible. They knew their Senses might deceive them, (or that they might be mistaken concerning the Objects of Sense) but nevertheless, they believed that our Saviour and the Apostles could not deceive them, upon this only ground, that their Senses or their Reason, by deduction from Sense, told them so. There was not one Man of them, perhaps, but had often observed his Senses misrepresent Obje&s to him; and yet, in this case, upon the sole Testimony of their Senses, they grounded an infallible Faith: because, though their Senses had misrepresented Obje&s, yet it was in a wrong medium, at an undue distance, or by reason of some indisposition of the Sense it self; and still their Senses, or rather their Reason by the help of their Senses, discovered that their Senses had led them into Mistakes. But in the present case, when the Object was placed in open and frequent view, to the greatest advantage, when it was publick and exposed to multitudes, when all agreed in the same opinion concerning it, and when the matter was of infinite importance; here they had reason to conclude, that the Gọd who framed their
Senses, Senses, would not suffer them to be so hurtful to them, as they must needs have been, if they had been deceived by them. In like manner, in the Testimony, which descends to us from former Ages, we fee with other Mens Eyes, and hear with other Mens Ears ; and though the Testimony of others may often fail us, and is subject to a double inconveniency, through the Incapacity and Unfaithfulness of Witnesses ; yet, as in the former cafe, so here, when all Circumstances are weigh'd and consider'd, and, after the utmost trial, no reason can be found to with-hold our Affent, but all things stand undisproved, and no just Scruple appears, but only a bare possibility of being deceived; and this arising, not from any defect, but that of human Nature it felf, here God's Goodness and his Truth must needs interpose, to take away that only Impediment, which otherwise must unavoidably hinder any thing from ever being known to be infallible.
The only certainty which we can have, that our Senses are true, is this, That God will not suffer them to be deceived, where the Disposition of the Medium, and Distance of the Object, and all other Circumstances, are rightly qualified : because that would be inconsistent with his Attributes of Justice, Goodness, and Truth, but it would be inconsistent with these Attributes, not upon the account of our Bodies; for they would be provided for as well, though our Senses were deluded; we should see, and hear, and taste, just as we do now, though we were never so much deceived in these Sensations: therefore the Truth, and Goodness, and Justice of God, are engaged not to suffer us to be deceiv’d, in respect to our Souls, not in regard to our Bodies; and if we have no certainty that our Senses do not deceive us, but because God would not suffer such a Cheat to be put upon us, as we are intelligent and rational Beings; we have the fame and much greater reason to conclude, that he 3
would not fuffer us to lie under fuch a Delusion, in reference to our eternal Interest. If God would not fyffer our Minds unavoidably to lie under a temporal Delusion of no great consequence; have we not much more reason to conclude, that he would not fuffer us unavoidably to be deceiv'd by any means whatsoever, in reference to our eternal Interest? For in this cafe, to be deceiv'd is to be destroy'd ; and to suffer it, is a thousand times worse, than if he should fuffer all Mankind at once, not only to be deceiv'd by their Senses, but to be poison'd by that Deceit : And therefore the special Providence and particular Care of God must be concern'd to prevent it. If we have nothing to object but the Imperfection of human Nature, we may rely upon God, that this shall never mislead , in a matter of such consequence, whether the imperfe&ion be in our Senses, or in the Testimony of others. In short, the Miracles related in the Scriptures will as effe&tually prove a Divine Revelation to us, as they could to those that saw them; but the difference is, that they believ'd their Senses, and we believe them; and all things confider'd, we have as much reason to believe upon their Evidence, as they could have to believe upon the Evidence of their Senses.
Let us consider History as a Medium, by which these Miracles become known to us, and compare this Medium with that of Sight. If a Man would be fceptical, he might doubt whether any Medium of Sight be so fitly disposed, as to represent Obje&s in their due Proportion, and proper Shape, he might suspect that any Miracles which he could see, were false, or wrought only to amuse and deceive him, and there would be no way to satisfie such a one, but by telling him, that this is inconsistent with the Truth and Goodness of God. So in this other Medium of History, which to us fupplies the want of that of Sight, a Man may doubt of any Matter of fact, if
he pleases, notwithstanding the most credible Evidence ; but in a matter of this nature, where our eternal Salvation is concern’d, we may be sure, God will not suffer Mankind to be deceiv'd, without all, possibility of discovering the Deceit. The CircumItances have all the marks of Credibility in them; and therefore, if they be duly attended to, cannot but be believed; and the Doctrine of which they are brought in Evidence, being propounded to be believed, under pain of Damnation, requires that they shall be attended to, and consider'd: and that, which is in its Circumstances most credible, and in its Matter is fupposed necessary to Salvation, must be certainly true, unless God could oblige us to believe a Lye. For not to believe things credible, when attended to and known to be such, is to human Nature impossible; and not to attend to things proposed, as from God, of necessity to Salvation, is a very heinous Crime against God; and to think that God will suffer me to be deceived in what I am obliged, in honour and obedience to him, to believe upon his Authority, is to think he can oblige me to believe a Lye.
But it may be Obje&ted; If this be so, how comes it to pass, that they are pronounced blessed, who have not seen, and yet have believed, John xx. 29. which seems to denote, that a peculiar Blessing belongs to them, because they believe upon less Evidence. Ianswer, that they are there pronounced Blessed, who had so well consider'd the Nature and Circumstances of things, the Prophecies concerning the Messias, and what our Saviour had deliver'd of himself, as to believe his Resurrection upon the Report of others; not because others might not have as sufficient grounds for their Belief, as those who saw him after his Refurre&tion, but the Evidence of Sense is more plain and convincing to the generality of Men, tho’Reason proceeds at least upon as sure and as undeniable Principles. A Demonstration, when it is rightly per