Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

made, is a proof of nothing but that the means were adequate to the
end, the cause to the effect. A false religion may be speedily and
widely spread by force or by fraud; or it may, by degrees, gain an
extensive establishment in the world, from its being propitious to
the follies, the vices, and passions of mankind; or from its being
first introduced in an unenlightened and credulous age; or in a
country fitted by peculiar circumstances to foster and support it ; or
from a concurrence of many other human means. This may be
readily granted ; but that the Christian religion should have been
quickly propagated from Judea through the Roman Empire, during
the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, &c. by the human abili-
ties of the Apostles, appears to me to be an incredible fact. Those
who think otherwise would do well, in addition to the fact itself,
to consider the prophecies which were fulfilled when it took place.
66 What motive, says Justin Martyr in his Apology (Reeve's
Tranf.), could ever possibly have persuaded us to believe a crucified man
to be the first begotten of the unbegotten God, and that he would come
to judge the world, had we not met with those prophetic testimo-
nies of him proclaimed so long before his incarnation ? Were we
not eye-witnesses to the fulfilling of them ? Did we not see the dea
folation of Judea, and men out of all nations profelyted to the faith
of his Apostles, and renouncing the ancient errors they were brought
up in? Did we not find the prophecies made good in our felves, and see
Christians in greater numbers, and in greater sincerity, from among
the Gentiles, than from the Jews and Samaritans ?”—This argu-
ment has been insisted upon by Henry More in the firft vol. of his
works, where there is a chapter intituled, Veritas Evangelii demon-
firata ex Succellu; by 7. Denne in a discourse printed 1725, intituled,
The miraculous Success of the Gospel, a Proof of its divine Origin;
by Lebey in his Short Method with the Deists ; by Millar in his Hils
tory of the Propagation of Christianity, and Overthrow of Paganisin :
by Tillotson in the 12th vol. of his Sermons; by Leng in his Ser-
mons at Boyle's Lecture; by Joriin-in his Truth of the Christian
Religion ; by Leland in the 6th chapter of the 2d part of his Defence
of Christianity : by Bp. Atterbury in his two Sermons on the Mira-
culous Propagation of the Gospel; by Boljuet in his Discourse on
Universal History ; by Lardner in his Collection of Jewish Testi-
monies ; by Powell in his roih Discourse; by Benson in his Reason-
ableness of Christianity; and by Young in the ad vol. of his Differ-
tations on Idolatrous Corruptions; where, also, there is a com-
pendious view, supported by proper authorities, of the countries
alirough which the Apostles travelled in propagating the Gospel.

[ocr errors]

An Esay on the Man of Sin, from Benson's Paraphrase

and Notes on St. Paul's Epistles. p. 268.

That the Popish religion is the Christian religion, is a false po-
fition; and therefore Christianity may be true, though the religion

of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of the Church of Rome be, in many of its parts, an impofture. This observation should be always kept in mind by such of our young men of fashion, as are sent to finish their education by tra. velling in Catholic countries. It may seem paradoxical to affert, that the corruptions of any religion can be proofs of its truth ; yet the corruptions of the Chriftian religion, as practised by the Church of Rome, are certain proofs of the truth of the Christian religion ; inasmuch as they are exact completions of the prophecies which were delivered by Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John, concerning that apoftasy from the faith, which was to take place in the latter times. I have known the infidelity of more than one young man happily removed, by Thewing him the characters of P'opery delineated by St. Paul in his prophecy concerning the Man of Sin (2 Thef. ii. 1.), and in that concerning the apostary of the latter times (1 Tim. iv. 1). Bp. Hurd, in his 7th sermon at Warburton's Lecture, has given a concise history of the charge of Antichriflianism, which has, at different times, been brought againft the Church of Rome. Dr. Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, in his exercise for his degree at the Cominencement in 1582, supported this Thesis Pontifex Romanus eft ille Antichriftus quem futurum Scriptura prædixit. He had, before that time, refuted the forty arguments by which Nicholas Sander boated that he had demonstrated--that the Pope was not Antichrift. Whitaker's works are very well worth being looked into by those who would know what can be said for and against the other principal points in controversy between Protestants and Papifts, as well as against this primary pillar of the reformed faith-That the Hiesarchy of the Church of Rome is the Little Horn of Daniel, the Man of Sin of St. Paul, and the Antichrist of St. John. The evidence arising from the completion of the prophecies relative to the Rile, Character, and Fall of the Man of Sin, is an increafing evidence : it strikes us with more force than it ftruck our ancestors before the Reformation; and it will strike our pofterity, who all observe the different gradations of his decline, and his final ca. tastrophe, with more force than it now strikes us.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Observations on the History and Evidence of the Resura

rection of Jesus Christ. By GILBERT WEST, Esq. Lond. 1767. 6th. Ed. p. 289.'

The Resurrection of Christ is the very corner-stone on which the hope of a Chriftian is built; for, if Christ be not risen, Christianity is an impofture; and if Christ be risen, Christianity is true, and Deisin is a delusion. Whether Christ be, or be not risen from the dead. is a question of fact, and must be decided (not by metaphysical dira quisitions concerning the power of God to work a miracle, nor by nice subtilties concerning the fufficiency of human teftimony to el tablish the credibility of miracles, but) by fairly estimating the weight of evidence for and against the fact. The main arguments

which

disagreeindy of Cæfar dead, who

points, relative to chthem

which are brought to invalidate the fact of the Resurrection atë del duced from the real, or seeining, differences in the accounts whichi the Evangelists have given of the circumstances which attended it; and much labour has been employed in harmonizing the several acas counts. But what if it should be admitted (I do not fay that the conceffion is necessary), that the accounts cannot in every little point be made to agree? Will you for that reason disbelieve the fact itself? As well might you have disbelieved the report of those who should have said, that they had seen the body of Cæsar dead, because you would have found them disagreeing, probably, in some minute points, relative to the number or fituation of his wounds, to the time or manner of his being stabbed in the Capitol. A flight dilagreement between the writers of the New Testament, in their relations of matters of fact, is entirely analogous to what may be obu served every day in courts of justice ; no one, on account of a trifling difference in the testimonies of the witnesses, ever thinks of questioning the existence of the fact in which they all agree, or of impeaching either their integrity, or competency to establish the fact. If the Evangelists do really differ from each other in their accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus, it is a proof that they did not write ir concert, were not combined to impose a fable on the world ; and it is a proof, also, that what they wrote was not inspired in the mana ner which some, with more piety than judgment, have supposed it to have been. Let the Deifts make the most they can of the variations which they think may be found in the Evangelists; yet will they never be able to prove, that the facts mentioned by these writers respecting the Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, are not true : let them faften upon the writers of the New Testament as much human infirmity as they can; yet will they never be able to prove that they were not divinely inspired in what they delivered concerning the doctrines necessary to be believed, and the duties necessary to be performed, by all true disciples of Jesus Chrift.-The book which is here printed has been much esteemed ; it has been translated both into German and French, and may be of great use to those whose religious principles are unsettled. Macknights in his Harmony, has endeavoured to reconcile tlie seeming inconsiste encies in the Evangelists relative to the resurrection. Lardner púbo lished some judicious obfervations on Macknight's plan, Benson has given his sentiments on the subject of the Resurrection in his Life of Christ, and has anlivered the objections usually made to it. Bp. Newcome, in his Harmony, may be consulted on the subject with great advantåge: A pamphlet, published many years ago, intituled, The Trial of the Witneiles of the Resurrection of Jesus, has been well received in the world; but the most solid reasoning on the subject may be met with in a discourse concerning the Resurrection of Jefus Clirist, by Humphrey Ditton, 5th ed. 1749. Fabricius, in the 44th chap. of his Delectus Arguinentorum, «mentions 28 different authors on the Resurrection, and in the oth chap. of his Lux Evangelica he adds above 20 more ; nor would it be a difficult talk greatly to enlarge his catalcgues

OF

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

TO believe the Christian religion, is to believe that Moses and the

1 prophets, Christ and his apostles, were endued with divine authority, that they had a commission from God to act and teach as they did, and that he will verify their declarations concerning future things, and especially those concerning a future life, by the event : or, in other words, it is to receive the scriptures as our rule of life, and the foundation of all our hopes and fears. And as all those who regulate their faith and practice by the scriptures are Christians; so all those who disclaim that name, and pass under the general title of unbelievers, do also disavow this regard to the scriptures. But there are various classes of unbelievers. Some appear to treat the scriptures as mere forgeries ; others allow them to be the genuine writings of those whose names they bear, but suppose them to abound with fictions, not only in the miraculous, but also in the common part of the history; others again allow this part, but reject that; and, lastly, there are others who seem to allow the truth of the principal facts, both common and miraculous, contained in the scriptures, and yet still call in question its divine authority, as a rule of life, and an evidence of a happy futurity under Christ our faviour and king. He, therefore, that would satisfy himself or others in the truth of the Christian religion, as opposed by these several classes of unbelievers, muft inquire into these three things :

First, The genuineness of the books of the Old and New Testament.

Secondly, The truth of the principal facts contained in them, both common and miraculous. And,

Thirdly, Their divine authority. I will endeavour, therefore, to state some of the chief evidences for each of these important points, having first premised three preparatory propofitions, or lemmas, whereby the evidence for any one of them may be transferred upon the other two. Vol. V.

PROP.

B

and murangelin's real, or

[ocr errors]

which are brought to invi: duced from the real, or the Evangelists have çi: and much labour has bei counts. But what if it conccffion is necessary), . be made to agree ! Wil! As well might you hati have said, that they h; would have found 1. points, relative to the time or manner of lii greement between the lations of matters of : ferved every day in difference in the time tioning the existence peaching either the If the Evangelists of the Resurrection . concert, were not is a proof, also, thi. ner which fome, to have been. L. tions which they they never be in ters respecting i of Jerus Christ, New Testament never be able : they delivered the duties nic Chrift.--The has been trai great use to: in his Har encies in tl lished fom given his Chr: : :

« PoprzedniaDalej »