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PART they are, yet ought never to be arged apart
II. from its direct Proofs, but always to be joined ww with them. Thus the Evidence of Chriftia
nity will be a long Series of things, reaching, as it seems, from the Beginning of the World to the present Time, of great Variety and Compass, taking in both the direct, and also the collateral, Proofs; and making up, all of them together, one Argument: the Conviction arising from which Kind of Proof may be compared to what they call the Effect in Architecture or other Works of Art; a Refult from a great Number of things fo and so disposed, and taken into one View. I shall therefore, FIRST, make some Obfervations relating to Miracles, and the appearing Completions of Prophecy; and confider what Analogy suggests, in Anfwer to the Objections brought against this Evidence. And, SECONDLY, I shall endeavour to give some Account of the general Argument now mentioned, confifting both of the direct and collateral Evidence, considered as making up one Argument: this being the Kind of Proof upon which we determine most Questions of Difficulty, concerning common Facts, alledged to have happened or seeming likely to happen ; especially Queftions relating to Conduct.
FIRST I shall make some Observations CHAP. upon the direct Proof of Christianity from VII. Miracles and Prophecy, and upon the Objec-W tions alledged against it,
I. Now the following Observations, relating to the historical Evidence of Miracles wrought in Attestation of Christianity, appear to be of great Weight.
1. The Old Testament affords us the same historical Evidence of the Miracles of Moses and of the Prophets, as of the common civil History of Moses and the Kings of Israel; or, as of the Affairs of the Jewish Nation. And the Gospels and the Asts afford us the fame historical Evidence of the Miracles of Christ and the Apostles, as of the common Matters related in them. This indeed could not have been affirmed by any reasonable Man, if the Authors of these Books, like many other Hiftorians, had appeared to make an entertaining Manner of Writing their Aim; though they had interspersed Miracles in their Works, at proper Distances and upon proper Occasions. These might have animated a dull Relation, amused the Reader and engaged his Attention. And the fame Account would naturally have been given of them, as, of the Speeches and Descriptions
Part of such Authors: the same Account, in a
II. Manner, as is to be given, why the Poets Mmake Use of Wonders and Prodigies. But
the Facts, both miraculous and natural, in Scripture, are related in plain unadorned Narratives: and both of them appear, in all Respects, to stand upon the same Foot of historical Evidence, Farther: Some Parts of Scripture, containing an Account of Miracles fully sufficient to prove the Truth of Christianity, are quoted as genuine, from the Age in which they are said to be written, down to the present: And no other parts of them, material in the present Question, are omitted to be quoted in such Manner, as to afford
any Sort of Proof of their not being genuine. And, as common History, when called in Question in any Instance, may often be greatly confirmed by cotemporary or subsequent Events more known and acknowledged; and as the common Scripture-history, like many others, is thus confirmed: so likewise is the miraculous History of it, not only in particular Instances, but in general. For, the Establishment of the Jewish and Christian Religions, which were Events cotemporary with the Miracles related to be wrought in Attestation of both, or subsequent to them, these Events are just what we should have expected, upon supposition fuch Miracles were really wrought to attest the Truth of those
Religions. These Miracles are a satisfactory CHAP.
, but what is imaginary
far-fetched and indirect, may indeed be, and often is, the true Account of a Matter; yet it cannot be admitted on the Authority of its being asserted. Mere Guess, Supposition, and Possibility, when opposed to historical Evidence, prove nothing, but that historical Evidence is not demonstrative.
Now the just Consequence from all this, I think, is, that the Scripture-history in general is to be admitted as an authentick genuine History, till somewhat positive be alledged sufficient to invalidate it. But no Man will deny the Consequence to be, that it cannot be rejected, or thrown by as of no Authority, till it can be proved to be of none; even though the Evidence now mentioned for its Authority, were doubtful. This Evidence may be confronted, by historical Evidence on the other Side, if there be any: or general
PART Incredibility in the things related, or Incon
II. fistence in the general Turn of the History, Mwould prove it to be of no Authority. But
since, upon the Face of the Matter, upon a first and general View, the Appearance is
, that it is an authentick History; it cannot be determined to be fictitious without some Proof, that it is so. And the following Observations, in Support of these and coincident with them, will greatly confirm the historical Evidence for the Truth of Christianity.
2. The Epistles of St. Paul, from the Nature of epistolary Writing, and morever from several of them being written, not to particular Persons, but to Churches; carry in them Evidences of their being genuine, beyond what can be in a mere historical Narrative, left to the World at large. This Evidence, joined with That which they have in common with the rest of the New Testament, seems not to leave so much as any particular Pretence for denying their Genuineness, considered as an ordinary Matter of Fact, or of Criticism: I say particular Pretence, for denying it; because any single Fact, of such a Kind and such Antiquity, may have general Doubts raised concerning it, from the very Nature of human Affairs and human Testimony. There is also to be mentioned, a distinct and particular Evidence of