« VorigeDoorgaan »
bestow upon it: but this, I hope, will be no objection to it, at least amongst the considering part of mankind, I am sure it ought not. For unless we would pay a greater regard to any Man's Dress than to his Perfon; by the same rule Truth ought always to be received with such Veneration as is due to Truth, (and more especially when it is a Truth of Consequence) let the Garb which it appears in be ever so bomely.
Again, another disadvantage which seems to attend this Argument, is, that there is some appearance of Novelty in it. Truth never yet gained a Majority on its fide at its first appearance. And the mistaken notion of the Jews concerning the Expectation of a Temporal Deliverer is a very remarkable instance, what difficulty may be expeEted, when we would endeavour to convince any one of a Truth which mankind is not thoroughly well acquainted of. And even in a People who are less tenacious of their Opinions, it is no uncommon thing for them to look round and fee, who is for and against the point in debate, before they declare their own opinion: so that as long as Interest or Reputation has such a powerful influence over us, that we are to be biased by the one, and aw'd by the other ; Truth will always meet with fonte difficulties before it is established. But however, let the Difficulties arising from hence be what they will, 'tis very certain that new Do&trines ought always to stand a ftri&t Examination, before they are received and acknowledged as True; for there never was any thing yet published (as I presume) but was intended to pass for Truth: and it can't possibly be known, whether it be the thing that it would pass for or no, till it bas been thoroughly examined. This
therefore I very readily submit to, provided Moses and the Prophets are to determine. But before the Doctrine which is bere advanced, is charged with the accusation of Novelty, it cught to be considered, whether any thing that is supported by, or is agreeable to the writings of these moft antient Authors, can be charged with this Accusation or no ? if it can't, then as the Truth of this Argument is built on their Authority, so therefore this Accufation must fall to the ground.
The Fops of the Age, or to speak in plain Terms; those men wbo bave no very great liking to sacred Autbors, or who relish learning much more than Truth, it may be presumed, will not be very well pleased with any Argument that is not well season'd with learned Authors. And this, it must be con feft, is an affair that is much to be lamented, as being very near akin to the folly which the Jews were guilty of; namely, of paying a greater regard to the Tradition of the Elders, than they did to the Sacred Scriptures : for it is very certain, that the least of the Prophets is of much greater Authority, than all the learned Authors when put together. However, I would be far from leffening the esteem which is juftly due to learning ; for tho it has been many times perverted to a very bad use, there is no one can pretend to deny, that it likewise has been of great service to the Christian Cause. The beft medicine in the world, when in bad kands, may do a great deal of mischief ; and therefore as we do not charge this mischief against the medicine, but the Person who administer'd it; so it would by no means agree with common Justice to endeavour to lessen the Esteem which is justly due to Learning. All that I would recommend is, that it
may bave its juft due, and nothing more. If this was strizzly observed, I am very much inclined to believe, that we should scarce ever meet with the Sacred Text tortur'd and straind in such a manner, that no one can perceive any such Truth to bave been contained in it, as has been pretended to be extraEted from it : for examine this matter whenever you will, and you will almost always find, that there is fome learned opinion to be supported by it.
But however, my Argument, as I before observed, is built on sacred Authority; and it is no small Satisfaction to me, that Moses and the Prophets are to support and maintain the Truth of it; for they undoubtedly are Authors of the greatest Credit, whether the present age will be pleased to allow them this Character or no.
But nevertheless, there is yet another disadvantage which seems to threaten this undertaking much harder than either of the former : And that is, if the present Age is not altogether prepoflest against Christianity, yet the generality of mankind are very regardless of it. But however, this is so far from discouraging me, that it rather prompts me on to prosecute my design with so much the more Vigor. The benefits tender'd to Mankind, thro' a stedfast faith in Christ the promised Seed, are of the greateft magnitude : and it may bave so happen'd, that the Zeal of many may have languished for want of being fully assured that the blessed Jesus was the Person foretold in the original Promise. That this is Ho unreasonable conje&ture will, I think, very plainly appear to any one, who considers bow altogether ignorant of the several Truths contain’d in the Promise, the generality of mankind are, even to this present
Moment; end likewise bow little has been said in defence of the writings of the Prophets, but more para ticularly that part of them where the Resurrection of the promised Messiah is foretold. This, as it is the fundamental Article of the Christian Faith, so the proving it to have been contain'd in the original Promise, will give no small weight to those passages where it was foretold by the Prophets: and when by this means we are enabled to discover a profound harmony between Moses and the Prophets, as it will be very reasonable to conclude, that Moses's promised Seed, and the Prophets promised Messiah, is one and the same Person; so if we extend our confiderations but a very little farther, and examine the Testimony of the Apostles, we fall find such harmony and conformity thro' the whole, as will make up one irrefragable Evidence, proving beyond all manner of Contradiction, that the Blessed Jesus was the Person foretold by Moses and the Prophets; consequently our Zeal for Christianity can never be in any danger of languishing for want of good and fufficient proof to support and maintain the Truth of it. For if it can be proved, that the twofold nature of Christ's Perfon and Office, was foretold from the beginning; and if it can be proved that each and every one of these important Articles of our faith were afterwards more clearly revealed by the Prophets, with many additional notices given, concerning the Time and Place, when and where Christ was to be born; that he was really to be born of a Virgin, or, as.'twas foretold from the beginning, to be the Seed of the Woman only; that he was to be of the family of David, and to spring up from the Root of Jesse, when the Stock and Branches of this family was was cut down to the Ground, i. e. when the Royal Stile and Dignity of the family of David
was ended; when these, together with many other notices, which were given by the Prophets concerning feveral remarkable Events that were to happen when this Eminent Person was pouring out his Soul unto Death are confidered, and when to this is added the Testimony of the Apostles, where you have a plain account bow, and by whom every one of these Predi ètions were fulfilled; if this does not convince you, that the Person whom they have exhibited as the true Son of Promise, was the very person who from the beginning was appointed to be bruised, and to bruise the head of the Serpent ; it is very certain that your belief is not suspended for want of proof to convince you, but because you are resolved not to be convinced ; which aggravating circumstance will undoubtedly greatly increase your condemnation.
But since the benefits tender'd to mankind throa stedfast faith in Christ the promised Seed, are of the greatest magnitude ; and since all mankind either bave, or may have an equal Share in them, it is therefore very certain, that all mankind are equally concerned in the defence of Christianity: and tho'it must be confeft, that all are not equally qualified for a work of this nature, yet it is very certain, that all may do something; they who can't defend their faith may pray for it: That God would be favourable and gracious unto Sion, that he would build the walls of Jerufàlem, is the least that can be done by any of the Members of Christianity; they who can do no more, may do this; and they who can do more, are inexcufable if they do not.
In temporal Affairs we need no Instructions of this kind, we are ready enough to defend cur Rights and Properties against those who endeavour to lefen or deprive us of them. But since the whole