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Therefore, though we know not the utmost extent of the power of nature; yet we can certainly know what is contrary to the nature of several such things as we do know.
And therefore, though we may be cheated and imposed upon in many seeming miracles and wonders, yet there are some things wherein we may be certain.
But further, the deists acknowledge a God, of an al mighty power, who made all things; yet they would put it out of his power to make any revelation of his will to mankind. For if we cannot be certain of any miracle, how should we know when God sent any thing extraordinary to us?
Nay, how should we know the ordinary power of nature, if we know not what exceeded it? If we know not what is natural, how do we know there is such a thing as nature? That all is not supernatural, all miracles, and so disputable, till we come to downright skepticism, and doubt the certainty of outward senses, whether we see, hear, or feel; or all be not a miraculous illusion!
Which, because I know the deists are not inclined to do, therefore I will return to pursue my argument upon the conviction of our outward senses, desiring only this, that they would allow the senses of other men to be as ce ain as their own. Which they cannot refuse; since, without this, they can have no certainty of their
X. Therefore, from what has been said, the cause is summed up shortly in this, that though we cannot see what was done before our time, yet by the marks which I have laid down concerning the certainty of matters of fact done before our time, we may be as much assured of the truth of them, as if we saw them with our eyes; because whatever matter of fact has all the four marks before mentioned, could never have been invented and received, but upon the conviction of the outward senses of all those who did receive it, as before is demonstrated. And therefore the topic which I have chosen
does stand upon the conviction even of men's outward senses. And since you have confined me to one topic, I have not insisted upon the other, which I have only named.
XI. And it now lies upon the deists, if they would appear as men of reason, to show some matter of fact of former ages, which they allow to be true, that has greater evidence of its truth, than the matters of fact of Moses and of Christ; otherwise they cannot, with any show of reason, reject the one, and yet admit of the other.
But I have given them greater latitude than this; for I have shown such marks of the truth of the matters of fact of Moses and of Christ, as no other matters of fact of those times, however true, have, but these only; and I put it upon them to show any forgery that has all these
This is a short issue. Keep them close to this. This determines the cause all at once.
Let them produce their Apollonius Tyanæus, whose life was put into English by the execrable Charles Blount,* and compared with all the wit and malice he was master of, to the life and miracles of our blessed Saviour. Let them take aid from all the legends of the church of Rome, those pious cheats, the sorest disgraces in Christianity; and which have bid the fairest of any one contrivance to overturn the certainty of the miracles of Christ, and his apostles, and the whole truth of the Gospel, by putting them all upon the same foot; at least, they are so understood by the generality
*The hand of that scorner, which durst write such outrageous blasphemy against his Maker, the divine vengeance has made his own executioner. This I would not have mentioned, (because the like judgment has befallen others,) but that the Theistical Club have set this up as a principle; and printed a vindication of this same Blount for murdering himself, by way of justification of self-murder. Which some of them have since, as well as formerly, horribly practised upon themselves. Therefore this is no common judgment to which they are delivered, but a visible mark set upon them, to show how far God has forsaken them; and as a caution to all Christians, to beware of them, and not to come near the tents of these wicked men, lest they perish in their destruction.
of their devotees, though disowned and laughed at by the learned, and men of sense among them.
Let them pick and choose the most probable of all the fables of the heathen deities, and see if they can find, in any of these, the four marks before mentioned. Otherwise, let them submit to the irrefragable certainty of the Christian religion.
XII. But if, notwithstanding all that is said, the deists will still contend, that all this is but priestcraft, the invention of priests, for their own profit, &c., then they will give us an idea of priests, far different from what they intend; for then, we must look upon these priests, not only as the cunningest and wisest of mankind, but we shall be tempted to adore them as deities, who have such power, as to impose, at their pleasure, upon the senses of mankind; to make them believe, that they had practised such public institutions, enacted them by laws, taught them to their children, &c., when they had never done any of these things, or even so much as heard of them before; and then, upon the credit of their believing that they had done such things as they never did, to make them further believe, upon the same foundation, whatever they pleased to impose upon them, as to former ages; I say, such a power as this, must exceed all that is human; and consequently, make us rank these priests far above the condition of mortals.
2. Nay, this would make them outdo all that has ever been related of the infernal powers; for though their legerdemain had extended to deceive some unwary beholders, and their power of working some seeming miracles has been great, yet it never reached, or ever was supposed to reach so far, as to deceive the senses of all mankind in matters of such public and notorious nature as those of which we now speak; to make them believe, that they had enacted laws for such public observances, continually practised them, taught them to their children, and had been instructed in them
themselves from their childhood, if they had never enacted, practised, taught, or been taught, such things.
3. And as this exceeds all the power of hell and devils, so is it more than ever God Almighty has done since the foundation of the world. None of the miracles that he has shown or belief which he has required to any thing that he has revealed, has ever contradicted the outward senses of any one man in the world, much less of all mankind together. For miracles being appeals to our outward senses, if they should overthrow the certainty of our outward senses, must destroy, with it, all their own certainty as to us; since we have no other way to judge of a miracle exhibited to our senses, than upon the supposition of the certainty of our senses, upon which we give credit to a miracle that is shown to
4. This, by the way, is a yet unanswered argument against the miracle of transubstantiation, and shows the weakness of the defence which the church of Rome offers for it, (from whom the Socinians have licked it up, and of late, have gloried much in it among us,) that the doctrines of the trinity or incarnation contain as great seeming absurdities as that of transubstantiation. For I would ask, which of our senses it is which the doctrines of the trinity or incarnation do contradict? Is it our seeing, hearing, feeling, taste, or smell? whereas transubstantiation does contradict all of these. Therefore the comparison is exceeding short, and out of purpose. But to return.
If the Christian religion be a cheat, and nothing else but the invention of priests, and carried on by their craft, it makes their power and wisdom greater than that of men, angels, or devils; and more than God himself ever yet showed or expressed, to deceive and impose upon the senses of mankind, in such public and notorious matters of fact.
XIII. And this miracle, which the deists must run into to avoid these recorded of Moses and Christ, is
much greater, and more astonishing, than all the Scriptures tell of them.
So that these men who laugh at all miracles, are now obliged to account for the greatest of all, how the senses of mankind could be imposed upon in such public matters of fact.
And how, then, can they make the priests the most contemptible of all mankind, since they make them the sole authors of this the greatest of miracles?
XIV. And since the deists (these men of sense and reason) have so vile and mean an idea of the priests of all religions, why do they not recover the world out of the possession and government of such blockheads ? Why do they suffer kings and states to be led by them; to establish their deceits by laws, and inflict penalties upon the opposers of them? Let the deists try their hands; they have been trying, and are now busy, about it. And free liberty they have. Yet they have not prevailed, nor ever yet did prevail, in any civilized or generous nation. And though they have some inroads among the Hottentots, and some other the most brutal part of mankind, yet are they still exploded, and priests have and do prevail against them, among not only the greatest, but best part of the world, and the most glorious for arts, learning, and war.
XV. For as the devil does ape God, in his institutions of religion, his feasts, and sacrifices, &c., so likewise in his priests, without whom, no religion, whether true or false, can stand. False religion is but a corruption of the true. The true was before it, though it be followed close upon the heels.
The revelation made to Moses is older than any history extant in the heathen world. The heathens, in imitation of him, pretended likewise to their revelations ; but I have given those marks which distinguish them from the true; none of them have those four marks before mentioned.
Now the deists think all revelations to be equally pretended and a cheat; and the priests of all religions