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which have not all the four marks, how much more impossible is it that any deceit should attend the thing in which all these marks concur?
But all these marks meet in the matters of fact, which are recorded in the gospels, respecting Christ, as well as the matters of fact of the Old Testament, which relate to Moses. .
The gospels declare, that the works and miracles of Christ were done publicly, in the face of the world ;* and the acts of the apostles mention, that three thousand persons, at one time,t, and above five thousand at another period, I were converted to Christianity, upon conviction of what they had seen, and what had been publicly transacted before them, wherein it was impossible to have imposed upon them. Here, therefore, is an agreement of the two first of the four rules,
The other two concur in baptism and the Lord's supper, which were instituted by Christ himself, and designed to be perpetuated in the Christian church to the latest period of time; and they have been, since their institution, uniformly observed by the Christian world. Christ ordained ministers to preach and administer these sacraments, and to govern his church, “even to the end of the world.” Accordingly, they have continued, in regular succession, to this day, and, no doubt, will thus continue, until
the final consummation of all things; the existence, therefore, of the Christian clergy, is as notorious a matter of fact, as was the tribe of Levi, among the Jews. The gospel is also as much a law to Christians, with respect to their religious conduct, as was the book of Moses to the Jews; and as it is a part of the matters of fact related in the gospel, that such an order of men was appointed by Christ, and to continue to the end of the world, if the gospel was a fiction, and invented some ages after Christ, at the time it was invented, there could not have been any such order of clergy, derived from the institution of Christ, which must have contradicted the gospel, and demonstrated it to have been false.
The pretended matters of fact of Mahomet, and what is fabled of the heathen deities, all want some of these four rules, whereby the certainty of matters of fact is demonstrated. Mahomet did not pretend to have wrought miracles, as he himself declares ;* and those which, by some, are said to have been performed by him, are regarded by Mahometans as legendary fables, and, as such, they are rejected by the wise and learned among them.f But those miracles related of Mahomet, possess not the two first rules before mentioned; for his pretended con
* Koran, chap. VI, &c. + Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 34.
verse with the moon; his mersa or night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from thence to heaven, were not performed in the presence of any one. The same may be said of the fables of the heathen gods; of Mercury's stealing sheep, for instance; and of Jupiter's changing himself into a bull. But such relations are most senseless, and wholly unworthy the attention of reasonable beings!
You may challenge, sir, all the deists in the world, to produce any action that is fabulous, in which all these four marks unite or agree! The histories contained in the book of Exodus and in the gospels, could never have been received, had they not been true; because the institution of the Jewish and Christian priesthoods ; of the sabbath ; of the passover; of circumcision; of baptism, and other ordinances, are therein related as having descended, without interruption, from the period of their commencement. As impossible would it have been, to have persuaded men, that they had been circumcised and baptized, and had circumcised and baptized their children; celebrated passovers, sabbaths and sacraments, under the government and administration of a certain order of priests, if they had no knowledge of these things, as it would have been, to have caused them to have believed, that they had passed through a sea and a river upon dry land; seen the dead raised, and divers miracles performed, when they were entirely
unacquainted with these facts! But without having believed these things, it is impossible that the books of Moses and the gospels should have been received ! For the truth of the matters of fact contained in these books and in the gos- ** pels, was required to be believed by men, only as they had seen such facts; an appeal having been made to their senses for the truth of these facts. This circumstance rendered it impossible for any person to have invented such accounts in after ages, without having been detected of falsehood when the falsities were invented; and as impossible also, would it have been to have imposed upon mankind, when such public matters of fact were said to have had their origin. . It undoubtedly concerns deists, if they wish to be considered as men of reason, to shew some matter of fact of former ages, which they admit to be true, that has a greater evidence of its truth than the matters of fact of Moses and of Christ, or they cannot, with any appearance of reason, reject the latter, and yet retain the former!
But the matters of fact of Moses and Christ, it may be observed, have such evidences of their authenticity, as no other matters of fact, of those times possess, however true; and deists may be called upon to prove any forgery in which all these four marks unite!
This is a short issue, and fully determines the case! Let them choose the most probable of all
the fables of the heathen deities, or actions of the founder of any religion, and see whether in any such fables, or actions, these four marks concur! If not, and if unable to disprove the matters of fact contained in the Scriptures, let them revere the dictates of reason; reverence truth, and submit to the irrefragable certainty of the Christian religion !