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pretended to bear it down in so many, and you will see that there is no possibility of such a deceit.
Secondly; and it showeth, that such men could not possibly forge such a volume of miracles, if they would : for first, they could not all come together, nor have any opportunity to agree in the contrivance, being in several parts of the world ; nor was it ever imagined by their fiercest or most foolish adversaries, that they did such a thing : could all the poor, persecuted Christians in Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Rome, and the rest of the world, combine to delude all their posterity and the rest of the world, by telling them that such a history of miracles was true, when it was not?
4. But, yet further, this will appear if we consider, how many malicious Jews and heathens were among them, that might have easily evinced such a deceit, and made them forrit the shame of the world : yea, when miracles were wrought before these enemies, and the gift of tongues used in their hearing; for they were purposely for the convincing of unbelievers.
5, Yet do the enemies confess the fact, else what need the pharisees have blasphemed the Holy Ghost; and said, “They were done by the power of beelzebub ;' yea, Julian, and the worst enemies of the Christians, did confess them. The Turks, to this day, do confess them: so doth Mahomet, their prophet, in his Alcoran : and so do the very Jews themselves, that now live.
6. Consider, also, that the apostles had many enemies in the church, such as fell into heresy, and being convinced by miracles of the truth of Christianity, and yet taking it for a heinous sin to take down the law of Moses, they joined both together, and so opposed the apostles; and, therefore, would soon have discovered so gross a delusion as this is supposed to be.
7. Yea, and the apostles appealed to miracles, and the gift of the Spirit, as the proof of their apostleship against all these false teachers,
8. Yea, when many of their followers were drawn away by them, and began to think meanly of them in comparison of the seducers, they appeal to these works for the satisfying of the people, both of their office and doctrine; insomuch as Paul, with much sharpness, asks the Galatians who had bewitched them, and calls them foolish, and challenges them to answer, 1. Whether themselves received this Spirit by the law or faith ; 2. And whether they that yet work miracles among them did it by the law or faith. (Gal. iii, 1-3.)
9. Consider, also, whether such writings, preachings, and provocations would not have caused the apostles to be derided of all, and have turned back those that were inclined to Christianity, if they had not been true. To persuade them first to believe a volume of Christ's miracles, done in the open world, and to believe his resurrection and ascension ; and to inake the giving of the Holy Ghost to be that seal, which should credit this report with their hearers; and to preach and write to theinselves, that this Holy Ghost was commonly given by the laying on of their hands, yea, given to these their hearers, yea, so common, that he that had not the Spirit of Christ was none of his ; and to tell them of miracles still among them, and persuade them to desire rather the more edifying gifts, when they speak to the church, than the gift of tongues, which was to convince unbelievers, &c. If all these things had been feigned, would they not rather have tended to make all men condemn them, who might so easily know it, and could not but know it, than to stablish them in the faith, or turn the world?
10. It is most certain that all the first churches, who have delivered us the report of these gifts and miracles, did not intend to delude us, because they lost their own worldly profits, pleasures, and honours by this profession, and lived a life of great suffering to the flesh, and multitudes laid down their lives in the cause; and is it possible, I say possible, that many countries, or so many thousand persons of so many parts of the world, should combine to ruin themselves and cast themselves on unavoidable calamity, contempt, and, many of them, death itself, and all to deceive the world, in a matter by which themselves can be no way advantaged? I think I need to say no more to prove this impossible. You see then that the first Christians were Christians indeed, (for that is all I have to prove,) and did believe what they pretended to believe, and were not all dissemblers nor cheaters of the world in the testimony which they delivered them.
If any object that the certainty of some of the things before mentioned dependeth so much on history and records of antiquity, which unlearned men are unacquainted with, and therefore they cannot be obliged to believe, I answer, in these particulars :
1. The thing is nevertheless evident, because you know it not.
2. It concerneth all men to do what they can to attain that acquaintance with history and antiquity, by which they may be enabled to see the truth in its fullest evidence.
3. No man can know that the 'Magna Charta,' the Petition of Right, or any statute of this land, are indeed genuine and authentic as being the acts of such kings and parliaments, but upon the credit of tradition. Shall the unlearned, therefore, conclude that they are not bound by any such statute law, or custom, or that the tenure of their liberties and lands, by such a charter, is uncertain or bad ; because that no man can know but by records of antiquity, whether these statutes and charters be authentic or no? Doubtless, men that are not acquainted with antiquity, have a sufficient means to know that these are not forged statutes or charters; for they have the concurrent testimony
of all that are skilled in the laws, and have had better opportunity to search records and understand antiquity, than they have had; yea, and they may be certain that all these do not deceive them, when they know that there can be no motive to draw them to such a thing, but much against it, and if some were deceivers others would discover it, with divers the like considerations. So that the most unlearned man is so far bound to believe the statute against felony to be authentic, and in force, that he shall justly be hanged if he break it; and it shall be no sufficient excuse for him to say, 'I could not tell without skill in antiquities, whether this statute were counterfeit or not.'
4. The case is much alike here in the point in hand. When all divines or other learned men, that are acquainted with history, do unanimously affirm that these records are certain, and when the way to the same knowledge is open to all that have time and help to study it, we may, by a human faith, be here infallibly certain, as an unlearned man may be that there is such a place as Jerusalem or Rome; or as a scholar that understands the Latin or Greek, but not a word of Hebrew, may yet be certain, by a concurrence of evidences, that there is such a thing as the Hebrew tongue, and such books as Genesis, Exodus, &c., written in it, and that the translators do not herein deceive him. And this is one use of ministers in the church ; and the people may and must believe their teachers with a human, yet certain faith, that these records have been thus delivered to us down by tradition, and other parts of historical verities before mentioned.
The contrary doctrine of the apostates is self contradicting and
absurd; for, whereas, they pretend that they, and they only, are bound to believe, that see the miracles; by this means, they leave God incapable of convincing the world by miracles : for miracles would lose their convincing force, and be as no miracles, if they were common to all, and in all
ages. For it is not so much the power that is manifest in that work simply considered, that proves it any testimony to the doctrine, or that would convince; but it is the extraordinary application of omnipotency that sealeth the truth. It is a work of as great power to cause the sun to move as. to stand still, or the sea to keep its course as to change it, or the living to continue in life, as for the dead to rise, and to give eye-sight at birth or in the womb, and to give it twenty years after : but it would not have confirmed Christ's doctrine so much, if Lazarus had not died, as if he be raised again; or that a man be born with eye-sight, as that he be restored to it that was born blind ; and so of
every country and age in the world, to see miracles, or else not to be bound to believe; and I think, on the same ground, they must see particular miracles, for the sealing of each particular truth that they receive; and, then, miracles would be common, and so lose their force and be as none : then, every infidel would say; “This is a common thing.' If it were as common for the sun to stand still as to move, or for the dead to be raised, as the sick to be healed, or a child to be born ; do you think it would be a fit evidence to convince these unbelievers of the christian truth.
That doctrine which would deprive all the world of the benefit
of God's miraculous works, except those that see them, though others are capable of it, is a false doctrine; but
such is the doctrine which we here oppose : ergo, That others are capable of such benefit, is proved before : as also by the experience of all ages. May not this age remember God's works in reforming the churches; in delivering this nation from the Spanish invasion, in eighty-eight; from the powder-plot, &c., for the confirming of our faith and confidence in God, and exciting our hearts to a thankfulness for his mercy. May we not, yea, must we not be awed and warned by
God's recorded former judgments; even those that were done in the days of our forefathers, and in all generations that come to our knowledge: but if we are not bound to believe them, because we ourselves did not see them, then we cannot improve them, or get the benefit: and if we are not bound to believe our ancestors, and the histories or records of the church, or those that are skilful therein, concerning works that are miraculous, and therefore more observable, then we are not bound believe to them, concerning other deliverances or judgments. There is no way for us to be acquainted with such matters of fact, but either by our own sight or by immediate revelation from heaven, or by tradition and testimony of them that saw them. He that expecteth either to live in the sight of miracles, or under the immediate revelation from heaven of historical things, is a very vain, unreasonable man. The testimony of those that saw, must be the medium between their senses and ours, and must be to us instead of sight. I say, tradition is to us instead of sight, and that is the proper use of it: and he that would rob the world of the benefit of all God's works, which they have not seen themselves, is no good friend to them, nor a very wise man. Must none believe that the world was drowned with water, but those that saw it? Must none believe that Christ was incarnate, but they that saw him? If they must, then they must on the same grounds believe his miracles, though they did not see them : if not, they must not believe that there was ever a king in England, or that there is any such place as Rome or Jerusalem, or any country but England on earth, because they never saw them.
That doctrine which would rob God of the honour of all his
most wondrous works, which we never saw, is a false and
oppose : therefore,