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will be as willing as he is able, if a sufficient reason requires it; but no imaginable reason can be stronger, than that of proving the truth of a necessary religion to those who are to receive it.

Since, therefore, a revelation can be no otherwise proved to come from God than by miracles; if a revelation is expected, miracles also, for the same reason, must be expected. Now the miracles related in the Bible being qualified, as it is evident they really were, to stand the scrutiny for that purpose recommended in the former Discourse, right reason must receive them as evidence, that the religion of the Bible was dictated by God himself. They are to be considered as the authority and seal of Almighty God, affixed to his own revelations, by all, to whom sufficient proof is given, that those revelations were thus miraculously evidenced.

As to us, and others who have lived, or shall live, in ages very remote from those in which the miracles were wrought, they are fully attested to us, in the written record made of them, by such as performed or saw them, and laid down their lives for the truth of that record. And as to the antiquity and purity of the record itself, I have already shewn there is infinitely less reason to suspect it, in regard to either, tharrany other record in the world. We believe in Christianity, because we are convinced it was proved by miracles; and we believe the miracles were actually wrought, because we are sure the history which relates them is authentic and genuine, having been so kept as to put it beyond a possibility' of material corruptions.

But there is a particular kind of miracle recorded in the Scriptures, which proves to us, and must for ever prove beyond all controversy, that they are the word of God; and that is prophecy, or the prediction of future events, depending on the free elections of men. We have already observed, that God only foresees, and can enable his creatures to foretell, such events. But, in the Scriptures, there are predictions of this sort in such abundance, and so evidently verified, partly by facts recorded in the sacred history itself, and partly by others, attested in the history of later times, as puts the matter beyond all question, that those Scriptures are the work of God.

To avoid the circle of proving the Scriptures by the pro

phecies, and the prophecies by the Scriptures, nothing more is requisite than to prove the Scriptures of both Testaments as old as they represent themselves to be, by arguments independent not only of the prophecies, but of the Scriptures. Now the Jews are competent vouchers for the antiquity of the Old, and the Christians for that of the New, as I have already made appear; and these are parties too opposite to be suspected of an intention to vouch for each other. Besides, were there occasion for it, the antiquity of these writings might be established as clearly as that of any other writings, on the credit of ancient authors, whose works are not comprehended in the Scriptures, and who could have had no intention to attest any such thing, either because they had no reason to think it needed their attestation, or because they would rather, if they could, have recorded the very contrary. But the point by no means stands in need of borrowed proofs. It is not to be supposed the Jews should forge a set of writings that give their adversaries so great advantages. Nor can credulity itself be so very blind, as to believe the Christians could have been all along quoting the writings of the New Testament against one another, in their continual controversies, had not these writings been extant before the first quotations of that sort.

If then there had been at first any doubt concerning the divinity of the prophecies in the Old Testament, which foretell the coming of the Messiah, together with the rise, progress, and period, of the Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, there could be none, after all these prophecies had been exactly fulfilled. It was impossible for Isaiah or Daniel, as me men, to foretell events so very remote, and so absolutely depending on the freedom of persons who were not to be born for some hundreds of years after the death of those prophets. Nay, it was equally impossible for any angel, or superior creature, to communicate intimations of this kind from the strength of his own faculties. That the prophets should be enabled to foretell the coming of the Messiah, carries reason with it at first sight; but that they should have the history of the three empires mentioned revealed to them, and, through them, to the Jews, seems not so pertinent or accountable. It is, however, equally an argument of the Divine foreknowledge wherewith they were

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inspired. Nor is it a less proof of God's wisdom, considering how greatly his people were in after-times to interfere with these empires; and what an immense advantage it was to the Messiah, and his dispensation, to have the most important affairs of the world, for so long a course of years, foretold by the same prophets that foretold the time of his own coming, the place of his birth, his miracles, his character, his death, his resurrection, his success as a teacher, and, in short, all the chief transactions of his life. As, in the eye of the world, the character he intended to assume was low and despicable, something was necessary to aggrandize the expectation of him, and give the world reason to look on him with veneration, although unaccompanied with outward pomp and power. Nothing could so effectually answer this end (I mean nothing previous to his own miracles), as the prophetically intermixing his birth and history with those of the greatest empires the world was ever to see; and, what was more, the prognosticating to his kingdom an absolute conquest over the last and greatest of these, together with a dominion without bounds or end, as we see in the second and seventh of Daniel.

As to the prophecies relating to Christ, it is sufficient to convince us of their divinity, that Christ and his apostles quoted them to the Jews as extant in their ancient books, and as literally and exactly fulfilled in the new dispensation of religion. And as to the new prophecies which he and his disciples uttered concerning the apostacy and blindness of the Jews; the destruction of Jerusalem; the long and dreadful persecutions wherewith Christianity was to be opposed; the amazing success and triumph wherewith it was, nevertheless, to be crowned; the rise, progress, and power,

, of antichrist; with many other important events, all arising from the uncompelled schemes, and voluntary actions, of men in after-ages; we must grant they have had a full and clear completion, if we are not determined to give the lie to all history during a period of more than 1700 years, and even to our own experience and observation.

Now we ought to observe, in respect to almost all the prophecies in both Testaments, that, while they promised benefits and blessings to some, they threatened others with disgrace, destruction, and curses; that, therefore, if there were some who had reason to wish for their completion, there were others no less interested to oppose, and, if possible, prevent it; and that, in most instances, the opposers had all the advantages worldly power and policy could give them; while they, who wished well to the completion, were wholly destitute of both. This was seen remarkably in the case of Christ's resurrection. He was dead; his disciples were the simplest, the weakest, the most fearful, of mankind. They wished, indeed, to see him alive again; but the stealing away of his dead body was a thing they neither could have desired, for to what end nor have effected, because they had a military force to oppose, and, either by day or night, must have carried it away through crowds of Jews, attentive to the tomb, and watchful over an event the most awakening that had ever been foretold or promised to mankind. But that, notwithstanding all this, the prophecies were fulfilled by his actually coming to life again, these men, so fearful before, have fully proved to the whole world, by a testimony which all the severities of a sanguinary persecution could not frighten them from giving. The same thing is as remarkably evident in the history of the three succeed. ing centuries. Christ foretold great and terrible persecutions, and also universal success, to his followers. Now did not the refutation of his prophecy, as to the persecutions, lie in the hands of the Jews and Romans ? Had they any thing more to do, in order to prove him a false prophet, and consequently an impostor, than only not to persecute ? Yet they did persecute, and that most cruelly at times, for the space of three hundred years; and, by that very means, not only verified this prophecy, but also thereby did more towards verifying the other, concerning the successful preaching of Christianity, than they could have done by any other possible expedient; for the wounds of the martyrs were infinitely more eloquent than their mouths.

The compass of a discourse like this will not suffer me to descend into a minute discussion of every thing the subject may seem to require; but I speak as to wise men,' who may easily see, by what hath been said of miracles in general, and prophecies in particular, that God hath owned the Scriptures for his word and work; that he hath furnished reason with abundant proofs of this; and that, therefore, to



believe rationally in religious matters, and to be a Christian, is one and the same thing.

I know there are men who will find the way to make light of all this; and I know there were also men who firmly believed in the prophecies relating to the Messiah, and, at the very time prefixed by those prophecies for his appearance, saw Christ work the very miracles which it was foretold he should work, and yet considered, or would have had others consider him, as no better than the instrument of the devil. This their sin against reason, and the highest possible cause of conviction, Christ pronounced unpardonable. They, who in these times follow them in their infidel presumption, no doubt partake of their guilt; for, although they do not see the miracles of Christ, as they did, who ascribed them to the devil, yet there is no one thing in the world they have more reason to believe, especially as they have had all the other proofs afforded in favour of Christianity, since the first committal of the unpardonable crime, whether by miracles, by martyrdoms, or by prophecies fulfilled, from that day to this. Even the false prophets, the false teachers, the false miracles, the heresies, dissensions, schisms, among Christians, although seen through the telescope of infidel malice, as so many dark spots on the bright face of Christianity, do high honour, nevertheless, to its Author, who foretold them all, and, by that means, converted these instruments and efforts of his enemy into so many proofs of his own infinite wisdom and truth, for the full satisfaction of such as shall candidly inquire into the merits of his religion.

Let a rational man now consider, first, the rapid propagation of Christianity, which, in less than half a century, had spread itself through all parts of the Roman empire ; had penetrated into the East Indies, Ethiopia, Italy, Spain, Gaul, and Scythia; and, in the space of two hundred years, had converted such numbers in all ranks and conditions of men, that its apologists could boldly tell the emperors, they could not suppress Christianity without subverting their own power. Secondly, Let him consider, that, as fast as this religion advanced, so fast superstition, idolatry, and wickedness, declined, particularly in the Roman empire, at that time remarkably prone, through infinite wealth, and

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