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rying it on, and keeping it secret through all the world, if they had accorded in the first contrivance and attempts.
Sect. 55. III. It is impossible that all the thousands of adversaries among them, who were eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses as well as they, should not discover the deceit.
All those Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and other countrymen mentioned, (Acts ii.,) were not Christians; and the Christians, though many, were but a small part of the cities and countries where they dwelt and Paul saith, that tongues and miracles were for the sake of unbelievers, and unbelievers were ordinarily admitted into the christian assemblies, and the Christians went among them to preach, and most of the miracles were wrought in their sight and hearing.
Sect. 56. IV. It is impossible that the falling-out of Christians among themselves, among so many thousands in several nations, should never have detected the deceit, if they had been all such deceivers.
Sect. 57. V. It is impossible but some of the multitudes of the perverted, exasperated, separating, or excommunicated heretics, which were then in most countries where there were Christians, and opposed the orthodox, and were opposed by them, should have detected this deceit, if it had been such.
Sect. 58. VI. It is impossible but some of the apostates of those times, who are supposed to have joined in the deceit, would have detected it to the world, when they fell off from Christianity.
Sect. 59. VII. It is scarcely possible among so many thousands in several lands, that none of their own consciences, living or dying, should be constrained, in remorse and terror, to detect so great an evil to the world.
Sect. 60. VIII. Much more impossible is it, that, under the conscience of such a villany, they should live, and suffer, and die rejoicingly, and think it a happy exchange to forsake life and all, for the hopes of a reward in heaven for this very thing.
Sect. 61. IX. Lastly, it is impossible that these thousands of Christians should be able to deceive many more than themselves, into the belief of the same untruths, in the very time and place where the things were said to be done, and where the detection of the deceit had been easy, yea, unavoidable.
Christianity was then upon the increase; they that were converted, did convert more than themselves. Suppose in
Jerusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, &c., some thousands believed by the preaching of the apostles, in a few years, at the first; in a few years more, there were as many more added. Now, supposing all this had been but a cheat, if the Christians had told their neighbours;-among us, unlearned men speak in the languages of all countries; they cast out devils; they cure all diseases with prayer and anointing; they prophesy, and interpret tongues; they do many other miracles; and the same Spirit is given to others by their imposition of hands; and all this in the name and by the power of Jesus ;-would not their neighbours easily know whether this were true or not? And if it were false, would they not hate such deceivers, and make them a common scorn, instead of being converted by them?
Sect. 26. The aforesaid impossibilities are herein founded: 1. There is no effect without a sufficient cause: 2. A necessary cause, not sufficiently hindered, will bring forth its answerable effect. But the opposed supposition maketh effects without any sufficient cause, and necessary causes without their adequate effects.
Sect. 63. The providence of God permitted dissensions and heresies to arise among Christians, and rivals, and false teachers to raise hard reports of the apostles, and the people to be somewhat alienated from them, that the apostles might by challenges appeal to miracles, and future ages might be convinced that the matter of fact could not be contradicted.
The Romans had contentions among themselves; the strong and the weak contemning or condemning one another about meats and days. (Rom. xiv. 15.) The Corinthians were divided into factions, and exasperated against Paul by false apostles; so that he is fain at large to vindicate his ministry; and he doth it partly by appealing both to miracles and works of power wrought among them, and by the Spirit given to themselves. (2 Cor. xii. 12, and xiii. 3-5; and 1 Cor. xii. 7, 12, 13.) The Galatians were more alienated from Paul by Jewish teachers, and seemed to take him as an enemy for telling them the truth, and he feared that he had bestowed on them labour in vain; and in this case he vehemently rebuketh them, and appealeth first to miracles wrought among them, and before their eyes, and next to the Spirit given to themselves :-" O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you? This only would I learn of you; Received
ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? He, therefore, that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. iii. 1-5.) Now, if no such miracles were wrought among them, and if no such Spirit was received by themselves, would this argument have silenced adversaries, and reconciled the minds of the Galatians? or rather have made them deride the cause that must have such a defence, and say, 'Who be they that work miracles among us, and when did we receive such a Spirit? So, to the Romans, this is Paul's testimonial: "For I will not dare speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the gentiles obedient by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God," &c. (Rom. xv. 18, 19.) And to the Corinthians he saith, "I thank.my God, I speak with tongues more than you all." (1 Cor. xiv. 18.) So, "Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not." (Gal. ii. 8; 1 Cor. xiv. 22.) So, (Acts ii. 43, iv. 30, v. 12, vii. 36, viii. 13, xiv. 3, vi. 8, viii. 6, 13, xv, 12, and xix. 11, 1 Cor, xii. 10,) miracles are still made the confirmation of the apostles' testimony and doctrine.
And in Heb. ii. 3, 4, you have the just method of the proof and progress of Christianity; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, (but how is that known?), and was confirmed to us by them that heard him. (But how shall we know that they said truth?) God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.
"And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." (Acts iv. 33.) "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life, for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us," &c. (1 John i. 1-3.)
Sect. 64. III. The miracles of the apostles are not only attested by the churches which were eye-witnesses of them; 1. By the way of most credible human testimony; 2. And by natural evidence of infallible certainty; But also, 3. By super
natural testimony of God himself, as appeareth in these following evidences.
Sect. 65. I. Many miracles were wrought by those first churches, who were the witnesses of the apostles' miracles, which is a divine attestation to their testimony.
1. The Scriptures forecited tell us, that the same Holy Ghost was given to them all, though all had not the same gifts; and that tongues, and healing, and miracles were the gifts of many though not of all. Which, as I have showed, they could not themselves have believed of themselves, if it had not been true. Yea, sufficient historical testimony telleth us, that for three or four hundred years, at least till Constantine owned and protected Christianity by secular power, miracles were wrought in confirmation of the christian faith. It hath been the devil's craft to seek to destroy the credit of them, partly by hypocrites, who have counterfeited miracles; and partly by lying legends of the carnal, proud, domineering part of the church, who have told the world so many palpable lies, that they seemed to do it in design, to persuade them to believe nothing that is true. But yet all wise men will know the difference between history credible and incredible. The many testimonies of the miracles of Gregory Thaumaturgus, and many others, mentioned by Eusebius, and almost all other christian writers of those times, and those mentioned by Augustine, ' De Civitate Dei, (lib. xxii. cap. 8.') and Retract. (lib. i. cap. 13. et passim ;') and by Cyprian, Tertullian, and many more; will not be thought incredible by impartial, considering men.
Sect. 66. II. The eminent sanctity of the pastors of the churches, with the success of their testimony and doctrine, for the true sanctification of many thousand souls, is God's own attestation to their testimony and doctrine.
How far the sanctifying, renewing success of the doctrine, is a divine attestation to its verity, I have before opened. And how far God owneth even the truths of philosophy, by blessing them with an adequate proportionable success. The defective partial truths of philosophy, produce a defective partial reformation; how far God accepteth it, belongeth not to my present business to determine. The more full and integral discovery of God's will, by Jesus Christ, doth produce a more full and integral renovation. And, 1. The cause is known by the effect. 2. And God will not, as is before said, bless a lie to do the most excellent work in all the world. Now, it is a thing most evident, that
That this is
But that it is
God hath still blessed the ministry of the christian pastors in all ages, to the renewing of many thousand souls. truly so, I shall somewhat more fully show anon. God's own attestation, I have showed before. Sect. 67. I have opened the validity of the mony of the resurrection and miracles of Christ, and the first churches' certain testimony of the miracles of the apostles; both of them having a threefold certainty, moral, natural, and supernatural in all which I have supposed, that such a testimony the churches have indeed given down to their posterity; which is the thing that remaineth lastly to be here proved.
Sect. 68. The doctrine and miracles of Christ and his apostles have been delivered us down from the first churches, by all these following ways of history: 1. By delivering to us the same writings of the apostles and evangelists which they received from their hands themselves, as certain truth, and delivered down as such to us; even the holy Scriptures of the New Testament. They that believed their words, believed their writings, and have told us their belief, by preserving them for posterity as sacred verities.
In the holy Scriptures, the life, and death, and doctrine of Christ is contained; with the doctrine of the apostles, and so much of the history of their preaching and miracles, as Luke was an eye-witness of, or had certain knowledge of, (who was commonly Paul's companion,) by which we may partly judge of the acts of the rest of the apostles. And if the churches had not believed all these, they would not have delivered them as the infallible writings of the inspired apostles to their posterity,
Sect. 69. II. The very successive being of Christians and churches, is the fullest history that they believed those things which made them Christians and churches, which was the doctrines and miracles of Christ.
A Christian is nothing else but one that receiveth the doctrine, resurrection, and miracles of Christ, as certain truth, by the preaching and miracles of his great witnesses, the apostles: so many Christians as there ever were, so many believers of these things there have been. It was this doctrine and miracles that made them Christians, and planted these churches and if any man think it questionable, whether there have been Christians ever since Christ's time, in the world, all history will satisfy him, Roman, Mahometan, Jewish, and Christian, without any one dissenting voice. Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, Marcellinus,