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John III, 2.
come from God. For no Man can do these
Have already proved in a former Dif-Serm. II.
cumstanced, as to be direct and decisive Evidences of a divine Power and CommilfionThat it was absolutely impossible the Apostles should be deceived themselves, as Witnesses of our Saviour's Miracles and their own,That it was morally impos
SERM. II. lible they fhould attempt to deceive others.
pod The Subject of my present Discourse is to prove, that the Apostles could not have deceived Mankind, if they would ; nor have imposed a false Religion upon the World, by Virtue of a pretended Commisa fion from Heaven.
If the Christian Religion, containing Doctrines unpalatable to Flesh and Blood, void of every Advantage, besides it's own internal Excellency, to recommend it, and clogged with a great many Incumbrances, could carry
Conviction with it from East to West, by such incompetent Instruments, in fo port a Time, in Spite of the most refolved Opposition. If this Plant, from a flender Appearance at first, grew, and waxed a great Tree, when no kindly Sunshine of worldly Power yet smiled upon it; nay, when the Inclemency of the Season beat hard against it ; the Growth of it was un doubtedly marvellous.
It is granted, that in Matters of pure Speculation, the Bulk of Mankind may be, and often are, deceived, because they have not Leisure or Capacity, to unravel studied Sophistry, and nicely to distinguish between what is plausible, and what is folid and
substantial : But the Case is different as to S&RM. II.
neither of them to believe he sees a glaring She Apostles Wrought fuch
he does not actually behold. . Matters of Facts of they did not. If they did, then they were invested with a Power from God. For;evil Spirits would not, if they could, empower them to beat down Įdolatry ; If they did not, then it is unac countable, how, a Set of Fishermen, defpised for their Poverty, and odious upon the Account of theip Nation, should pro, pagate through many Nations, not to say the whole known World, such an unlikely Story as this,' viz. That anę, who was crucified as a common Malefactor in 16e dæa, was to be adored as a God; and that too at such a Juncture of Time, when their numerous Converts in several Parts of the World, some of whom were Men of known Distinction and Opulency, (such as Dionyfius of the Areopagus, Jofeph of the erish Şanhedrim, Sergius Paulus a Pro, consul, Flavius. Clemens a Roman Cansul,
Serm. II. &c.) who had, very probably, enjoyed one
continued Sunshine of Prosperity ; must bid adieu to all the Blandishments of Life, undergo whatever is diftasteful to human Nature, and either suffer, or be in Danger of suffering Martyrdom:
I would gladly have the Deifts try the Experiment: Let them send the ablest they can single out of their numerous Fraternity to broach such a like Story: For Inftance, that one, who suffered in England for a Malefactor, 'is risen from the Dead, and is to be worshipped as the Saviour of Mankind : Let them send them to Portugal or Spain, where the Inquisition reigns, and where as exquifite Tortures will be applied to them, as were to the primitive Martyrs. It is easy to Tee the Confequence: They themselves would-meet with a very warm Reception; but their Doctrine with a very cold one: · Both would be involved in the fame Doom, both perish and come to nought. If then the Apostles had not a Power of working genuine Miracles, and displaying the ampleft Credentials of divine Power ; it will be the greatest Miracle of all, that 'without either Riches to bribe, Authority to awe, or acquired -Knowledge
and Dexterity to over-reach Men into a Serm. I. Compliance with their Notions, they should pave the way to fo general and great a Turn in religious Affairs; when these boasted Masters of Reason, the Deists, these Men of large Views, who by an una common Superiority of Soul have disengaged themselves from the Prejudices of Education, would not be able to bring over a. Majority of Men, nay, perhaps, not one Man of common Sense in any one Nation if they should set on Foot such another unpromising Project.
Let us suppose, that a Person in our Days should embark in a Delign of cancelling all the old Religions, and building a new one upon their Ruins; that, to com- , pass this Design, he pretended to raise the Dead, make the Blind see, the Lame walk, the Deaf hear, &c. that not long after his Death, his Followers publish a punctual circumstantial Relation of all these Things, mentioning the Places where, the Persons upon whom, the Witneses before whom, these Miracles were said to be wrought : Let us put the Case, that they too pretended to have the same miraculous Powers vested in them, and that their Doctrine gained