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Books, which contain them, could never SERM. II.
have been received; nor the Festivals and
Obfervances, which conmemorate them,
have taken Place in that Age, in which
they were faid to be done: Because it was
then in every Body's Power to disprove them.
They could not, in any after Ages, have
been impofed upon Mankind: Because
though Abfurdities may be grafted upon an
old Religion, yet no Nation ever did, or
will, voluntarily embrace a Religion entire-
ly new, without any Evidence. And it is
certain, they were not thus impofed upon
Mankind long after; because it appears by
uncontradicted written Tradition, that thefe
Actions, auguft Ceremonies, and Festivals,
did commence at the Period affigned, and
have flowed down from their firft Fountain
Head to the prefent Age, in one uninter-
rupted Stream.

To apply this to the Truth of the Refurrection in particular. The Apoftolical Age could not be deceived by a sham Story of a Refurrection, because our Saviour's Refurrection was as public and notorious, as his Death and Crucifixion, though not in itfelf, yet in it's immediate Confequences, I mean those Miracles wrought before Thou

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SERM. II. fands, by Eye-Witneffes, to confirm the Truth of it. Was it then fet on Foot in fome after Age? No; because both the weekly and yearly Memorials of it are of as old a Date as Christianity itself, and, from the first Propagation of it, have been fucceffively handed down to us. That Sunday was the weekly Memorial of it, even in the Apoftolical Age, is plain from St. John, who fays, that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, or the Day then fet apart to commemorate the Lord's Refurrection. And that there was an annual Memorial of it, inftituted by the Apoftles, and continued down to us, is plain from the early Difputes about the precife Time, on which it was to be observed; though the Obfervation of Easter, as an Apoftolical Inftitution, was never controverted. In short, the History of the Gospel has all the Testiancient Matter of Fact ever mony, that any had; and it has, befides, feveral material Evidences, which other ancient Matters of Fact have not. For are there any other ancient Matters of Fact, which were attested, by Eye-Witneffes, who expected nothing in this Life but Miferies and Hardships for their Atteftations; who were ready to lay

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C down their Lives for the Truth of what SERM. II.

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they faid; who could not be deceived them-
felves, had no Intereft to deceive others,
nor could have deceived them if they
would? Are there ftanding Monuments and
fenfible Obfervances, appointed to keep up
the Memory of other ancient Matters of
Fact, commencing from the Time, in
which the Actions were done, and from
thence, as from the firft Link, descending
to Pofterity in one continued Chain? Did
any Religion befides conquer by fuffering,and
by having it's Thousands, and ten Thousands
flain? Or did any befides, though it's Inftru-
ments were vastly unequal to the Tafk, bear
down all Oppofition, and triumph over the
Rage of the Jews, the Learning of the Phi-
lofophers, the Power of Emperors, and the
Prejudices and Paffions of all Mankind?

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If Christianity was an Impofture; it was an Imposture fui Generis, a pure Original, imitating no Imposture, that ever was heard of before, and which no Imposture, I dare fay, will ever after venture to imitate: An Imposture, in which there could be no Prieftcraft. For the Priests, by profeffing and propagating it, expofed themselves to Luperior Tortures: They ftood in the Front

of

SERM. II. of the Battle, and were sure to fall the first, and the Bishop generally ended in the Mar tyr An Impofture in which there could be no State-craft: For all the States of the World for three hundred Years were combined against it.

So ftrong, in fhort, if we take the Arguments from Prophecy, the internal Excellency of Chriftianity, and the Neceffity of a Revelation into the Account, is the Evidence for Chriftianity; that it is the laft Thing I fhould believe, that an inquifitive unprejudiced Man, of a found Head, and an upright Heart, could be a determined Infidel. Nothing ought to be admitted in Bar to fuch pregnant Proofs, but fome abfolute Impoffibility in the Nature of the Thing: Mere Difficulties weigh Nothing For at that Rate we must disbelieve every Thing in Nature; every Thing in Nature being attended with great, nay inJuperable Difficulties.

Could we fuppofe a Being in fome other Part of the wide Creation, of the fame Size of Understanding with ourselves, but an intire Stranger to the natural History of the World; fhould any one inform him of the amazing Properties of the Loadstone,

the

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the Phanomena of Light and Colours, the SERM. II.
Circulation of the Blood contrary to all the
known Laws of Motion, the Revolutions
of the Planets, the Cobafion of Matter,
the infinite Divifibility of finite Matter,
nay, of the leaft Grain of that finite Mat-
ter, the furprizing Effects of Chemistry;
he would think the Hiftory of Nature far
more unaccountable, than any Deist can
the Book of Grace, and the History of the
Bible.

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Poor fhort-fighted Creatures! the least Grain of Sand is able to baffle the finest Understanding: And yet we would pretend to found the Depths of the divine Nature and Counsels; never confidering, what has been often obferved, that, "if what was revealed concerning God, were always adapted to our Comprehenfion; how could it with any Fitness reprefent that Nature, which "we allow to be incomprehenfible?" We need not to ranfack the Scriptures for Difficulties: Every Thing about us and within us, above us and beneath us, convinces us, that we are very ignorant; and, if once we come to a Refolution to quit what is clear (fuch are the Proofs for Chriftianity) upon the Account of what is obfcure; we shall

run

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