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all likelihood have discovered (if at all) so slowly, that we have great cause to believe, the religion of our first parents was derived from his immediate instruction. But, certainly, after their transgression, he made an immediate revelation to them; and thenceforward vouchsafed, from time to time, various manifestations, to such as would receive them, of his truths, his commands, and his purposes; not only re-publishing the original doctrines of reason, but adding new articles of belief, new promises, and new precepts, as the changing circumstances of things required; till at length, by his Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, he confirmed all his past notifications, and took away all necessity of future ones; acquainting us fully, in the ever blessed Gospel, with all that we shall need to know, or be bound to do, "till; "heaven and earth pass."
Thus, then, besides those things in religion, which our own reason can discern, we receive others on the testimony of their being revealed by God; as unquestionably we ought. For if he, who cannot err, and cannot lie, communicates any information to us-though it requires us to believe what we had before not the least apprehension of, or should else have imagined to be exceedingly strange and unlikely-though it require us to do, what otherwise we should neither have thought of doing, nor have chosen to do; yet, surely, his testimony and command may well be sufficient reason for both. We admit every day, upon the testimony one of another, things utterly unknown to us, and in themselves extremely improbable; and we act upon such testimony in matters, on which our fortunes, our healths, our lives, depend; as, indeed, without doing so, the affairs of the world could not be carried on.
(4.) Mat, v. 18.
"if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. And since we are able to convey the knowledge of our thoughts and our wills to each other, no question but God is able to convey his to his creatures.
But allowing that he can, it may be asked, how do we prove that he hath conveyed it to men in the Jewish and Christian Revelation? I answer -we believe the Jewish Revelation, for this plain reason amongst others, because the Christian confirms it; and we believe the Christian, chiefly upon the full proof which Christ and his Apostles have given of it. They who saw him with their own eyes perform things which man could not do, and heard him with their own ears foretel things which man could not foreknow, and yet experienced them to come to pass; as, for instance, his healing great numbers of sick persons with a word, and raising himself from the dead ; they must be sure that some power attended him more than human. And since his doctrines all promoted the spiritual worship and honour of the one true God, and virtue and happiness among men, they must be sure, also, that this power was not that of an evil spirit, but of a good one; and, consequently, that he came from God, and taught his will. If, then, it be true that he did, in their presence, not only deliver such doctrine, but foretel and perform such things, then their faith was reasonable, and ours is so too. Now, they do in the strongest manner affirm this, as you may read through the Gospels and Acts; and why are they not to be credited? They could not every one of them be mistaken in it all; and think they saw and heard, day after day, and year after year, things which they did not, any more than we can be mistaken in every thing that we see and
(5) 1 John v. 9.
hear continually. Besides, they affirm that they were enabled to do the same wonders themselves, and enable others to do them. All this could not be mistaken too.
And as they could not be deceived in these points, so neither could they intend to deceive mankind. There is all the appearance in the world of their being fair and honest persons, that would not deceive for interest. But, besides, what they affirmed was absolutely against their interest. It exposed them, as they could not but imagine it would, to reproach, imprisonment, stripes, death itself. Yet all these things they underwent patiently, one after another, through a course of many years, for the sake of what they taught; none of them all confessing, or being convicted of any falsehood; which yet they must have been, had they been guilty of any; for the things which they affirmed were many--indeed most of them done publicly; and all the power and all the learning of the world were employed against them, from the first, to detect them if possible. Yet nobody pretends, or ever did pretend, that they were detected. Besides, if any such discovery had been made, their whole scheme must have been ruined immediately; whereas, instead of that, they spread their religion (though it was contrary to the established superstitions, the deep-rooted prejudices, and favourite vices of mankind) through the whole earth, within a few years, by mere force of miracles, and arguments, and innocence, against all opposition. These things, surely, are sufficient proofs of our Saviour's coming from God, without saying any thing of the prophecies of the Old Testament, so many of which were so clearly fulfilled in him.
But, then, as all the facts hitherto mentioned, are ancient ones, it may be asked farther, how can we now be sure of the truth of what is said to
have been done so many ages ago? I answer, by all the same means, which can assure us of any other ancient fact. And there are multitudes of much ancienter, which nobody hath the least doubt of; and it would be reckoned madness if they had. The miracles of Christ and his Apostles are recorded in the New Testament; a book very fully proved, and, indeed, acknowledged to be, the greatest part of it, written by the Apostles themselves; and the rest, in their days, by their direction; and no one material fact of it is, or ever was, so far as we can learn, opposed by any contrary evidence whatsoever. Then, that vast numbers of persons were converted to this religion, as they declared, by seeing the miracles, and vast numbers more, by the accounts which they received of them-and persevered in their faith, against all worldly discouragements, till at length it became the prevailing one-appears partly from the New Testament also, partly from other books of acknowledged authority, written in that age, and the following ones, by Heathens and Jews, as well as Christians; and, indeed, is, in the main, universally owned and notorious.
But, supposing the facts on which our religion is built to be truly related, yet it may be asked further, how shall we be sure, that its doctrines were so too, in which it is much easier to mistake? I answer again, the doctrines of the Old Testament are attested and confirmed by the New. And for those of the New Testament we have our Saviour's own discourses, recorded by two of his Apostles, Matthew and John, who heard him constantly; and by two other persons, Mark and Luke, who at least received them from his constant hearers. We have also the discourses of his first disciples after his resurrection, recorded in the Acts; we have, besides, many letters written by them; the Epistles, sent on several occasions, for the instruc
tion of several new-planted churches. Now, all these agree in the same doctrine. But further, which adds inestimable value to what they have said and written, our Lord himself promised them that the Spirit of God should "teach them all
things, and bring all things to their remem"brance, whatever he had said unto them;" "should come and abide with them for ever, and
guide them into all truth." And accordingly this Spirit did come, and manifest his continued presence with them by his miraculous gifts. We have, therefore, the fullest evidence that both what they have delivered, as from our Saviour, and what they have said in their own names, is a true representation of his religion.
But another question is, supposing the Scripture a true revelation, so far as it goes, how shall we know, if it be a full and great one too, in all things necessary? I answer- -Since our Saviour had the Spirit without measure, and the writers of Scripture had as large a measure of it as their commission to instruct the world required, it is impossible that in so many discourses concerning the terms of salvation, as the New Testament contains, they should all have omitted any one thing necessary to the great end which they had in view. And what was not necessary when the Scripture was completed, cannot have become so since. "For the Faith was once for all delivered "in it to the Saints;"8" and other foundation
can no man lay," than what was laid then. The sacred penmen themselves could teach no other gospel than Christ appointed them: and he hath appointed no one since to make additions to it.
In the Books of Scripture, then, the doctrines of
(6) John xiv. 26.
(7) John xiv. 16-xvi. 13. (9) 1 Cor. iii. 11.