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And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up ; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that ye may be healed.
The EVIDENCES of ChrisTIANITY, consider
ed: Or, a short and easy Method with the Deists; Wherein the certainty of the Christian Religion is demonstrated.
IN A LETTER.
BY MR. LESLIE,
1. I MUCH condole with your unhappy circumstances, in being placed amongst such company, where, as you say, you continually hear the sacred Scriptures, and the histories therein contained, particularly of Moses and of Christ, and all revealed religion turned into ridicule, by men who set up for sense and réa.
And they say, That there is no greater gröụnd to believe in Christ, than in Mahomet : That all these pretences to revelation are cheats, and ever have been, among Pagans, Jews, Mahometans, and Christians : That they are all
"ke impositions of cunning and designing men,
upon the credulity at first, of simple and unthinking people ; till, their numbers increasing, their delusions grew popular, came at last to be established by laves, and then the force of education and custom gives a bias to the judgments of after ages, till such ceceits come really to be believedt; being received upon trust, from the ages foregoing, without examining into the ori. ginal and bottom of them. Which these, our modern men of sense, (as they desire to be es. teemed) say, that they only do ; that they only have their judgments freed from the slavish authority of precedents and laws, in matters of truth; which, they say, ought only to be decided by reason ; though by a prudent compliance with popularity and laws, they preserve themselves from outrage, and legal penalties : for none of their complexion are addicted to sufferings, or martyrdoin.
Now, Sir, that which you desire from me, is some short topic of reason, if such can be found, without running to authorities, and the intricate mazes of learning, which breed long disputes ; and which these men of reason deny by whole. sale, though they can give no reason for it, only suppose that anthors have been trumped upon us, interpolated, and corrupted,so that no stress can be laid upon them: though it cannot be shewn, wherein they are so corrupted; which, in reason, ought to lie upon them to prove, who alledge it ; otherwise, it is not only a precarious, but a guilty plea : and the more, that they refrain not to quote books on their side, for whose authority there are no better, or not so good
grounds. However, you say, it makes your disputes endless, and they go away with noise and clamour ; and a boast, that there is nothing, at least nothing certain, to be said on the Christian side. Therefore, you are desirous to find some one topic of reason, which should demonstrate the truth of the Christian religion ; and, at the same time, distinguish it from the impostures of Mahomet, and the old Pagan world; that our Deists may be brought to this test, and be either obliged to renounce their reason, and the common reason of mankind, or to submit to the clear proof, from reason, of the Christian religion : which must be such a proof, as no imposture can pretend to, otherwise it cannot prove the Christian religion not to be an imposture. And whether such a proof, one single proof, (to avoid confusion) is not to be found out, you desire to know from me ?
And you say, that you cannot imagine but there must be such a proof; because every truth is in itself clear, and one. And therefore, that one reason for it, if it be the true reason, must be sufficient; and if sufficient, it is better than many; for multiplicity confounds, especially to weak judgments.
Sir, you have imposed a hard task upon me; I wish I could perform it. For, though every truth is one ; yet our sight is sq feeble, that we cannot (always) come to it directly, but by many inferences, and laying of things together.
But I think, that, in the case before us, there is such a proof as you require; and I will set it down as short and as plain as I can.
II. First, then, I suppose, that the truth of the doctrine of Christ, will be sufficietly evin- . ced, if the matters of fact, which are recorded of him in the gospels, be true : for his mira. eles, if true, do vouch the truth of what he de. livered.
The same is to be said as to Moses. If he brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea, in that miraculous manner which is related in Exodus, and did such other wonderful things, as there told of him ; it must necessarily follow, that he was sent from God : these being the strongest proofs we can desire ; and which every Deist will confess he would acquiesce in, if he saw them with his eyes.
Therefore, the stress of this cause, will depend upon the proof of these matters of fact. : 1. And the method I will take, is, First, To lay down such rules, as to the truth of matters of fact in general, that where they all meet, such matters of fact cannot be false. And then, Seconelly, To shew, that all these rules do meet in the matters of fact of Moses, and of Christ : and that they do not meet in the matters of fact of Maliomet, of the Heathen deities, or can possibly meet in any imposture whatever.
2. The rules are these.
I. That the matter of fact be such, as that men's outward senses, their eyes, and ears, may be judges of it.
i), That it be done publicly, in the face of the world,
III. That not only public monuments be kept
up in memory of it, but some outward actions be performed
IV. That such monuments, and such actions, or observances, be instituted, and do commence, from the time that the matter of fact was done.
3. The two first rules, make it impossible for any such matter of fact to be imposed upon men, at the time when such matter of fact was said to be done ; because, every man's eyes and senses would contradict it. For example ; Suppose any man should pretend, that yesterday, he divided the Thames, in presence of all the people of London, and carried the whole city, men, women, and children, over to Southwark, on dry land ; the waters standing like walls, on both sides : I say, it is morally impossible, that he could persuade the people of London, that this was true, when every man, woman, and child, could contradict him, and say, That this was a notorious falsehood; for that they had not seen the Thames so divided, or had gone over on dry land. Therefore, I take it for granted, (and, I suppose, with the allowance of all the Deists in the world) that no such imposition could be put upon men, at the time when such public matter of fact was said to be done.
4. Therefore, it only remains, that such matter of fact might be invented some time after, when the men of that generation wherein the thing was said to be done, are all past and gone; and the credulity of after ages, might be imposed upon, to believe that things were done in former ages, which were not.