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The resurrection of Christ has been proved; and ie apostles shewn to have been faithful witnesses, 'wo of the gospels were written by them, and have idently been extant from their days; as all compent judges must allow: and the other two gospels ere written by the companions of the apostles, ''hese were published when the facts were recent; and o enemy, for nearly four hundred years afterwards f tempted to disprove them. The miracles wrought >v the apostles and evangelists confirmed the truth of '-he narrative. In these books the words of Christ are ontained; and they authenticate all the rest of the Tcripture.* We have seen, that he always quoted :very part of the Old Testament as the word of God; and he gave his apostles the keys of the kingdom of .leaven, that whatever they bound or loosed on earth, should be bound or loosed in heaven. This could only be done by their doctrine; and all human censures and absolutions are valid, so far as they agree with the doctrine of the apostles, and no further. But where shall we find this doctrine except in their writings? Those writings contain also internal proof both of being genuine and divine; and are confirmed to us by prophecies, which have been fulfilling ever since. Whatever men may now say of the sacred writers, they always speak of themselves and each other, as
* Our Lord says, " Had ye believed Moses, ye would have "believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not Ms, "vxritingt, how shall ye believe my words?" (John v. 46, 47.) Does not this decide that the books of Moses are genuine, wi^H all that believe the testimony of Christ?
declaring the truth of God to mankind, and they demand credit and obedience as the messengers and ambassadors of Christ. On every account, therefore, we have good reason, independently of ancient opinion, to receive the whole Scripture as the infallible word of God.—But “Christ did not write his own life.” What then? If he had, would not its authenticity or genuineness have been as liable to be questioned, as Matthew's or John's life of him? This again leads to universal scepticism, and is replete with most arrogant presumption. Upon the whole, there is not a religion in the world at this day, except christianity, that so much as pretends to be a revelation from God, demonstrated by miracles and prophecies; and rendered successful by a divine power accompanying unarmed unlettered men, preaching a holy doctrine, in the midst of potent and violent enemies, and patiently enduring all sufferings, even to death in the cause. The Jews adhere to the Old Testament; but that evidently foretels and terminates in the New. Mahomet, respecting whom Mr. P. has spoken with great incorrectness, propagated even his licentious religion by the sword, and with many advantages had very little success, till he adopted that measure: and there are no other candidates, which even Mr. P. thought worthy to be mentioned. What hath therefore been discoursed, concerning revelation, miracles, prophecy, and the
canon of Scripture, contains such a mass of evidence in proof of christianity, as never was, nor can pretend to be, equalled by the advocates for any other religion in the world. ,
MR. P. allows, 'in one sense, that every thing is a 'mystery to us:—that we, however, know as much
• as is necessary for us;—and that it is better the Cre
• ator should perform all for us, than that we should 'be let into the secret.' Yet he calls * mystery the an
• tagonist of truth,'.—' a fog of human invention that
• obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.'*
• To believe there is a God may be easy, or necessa'ry;' though atheists would dispute that point: but to know the nature and perfections of God is another matter. The pagan philosopher, who averred 'that
• the more he thought of the Deity, the less he seem'ed to know concerning him,' spake far more reasonably on this subject than modern deists. The religion, that has any connexion with an infinite and incomprehensible God and a boundless eternity, must be in many respects mysterious: unless a finite mind can fully understand infinity. But Mr. P. repeatedly calls ethicks religion; and says 'religious duties con
'sist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavour'ing to make our fellow creatures happy.'* Now an atheist may do all this: and is not that a singular definition of religious duties, which admits atheists to have been very exemplary in them? No doubt such a religion may be as free from mystery, as any thing in the world can be.
But mystery, in Scripture, signifies something relative to God, and his dealings with us< which could not have been discovered if it Had not been revealed; which can only be received by crediting revelation; which can be known no further than God has seen good to discover it; and which is so connected with things unrevealed and incomprehensible, that it cannot be fully understood or explained. The believer therefore understands the mystery as Jar as it is revealed, provided he fully credit the whole divine testimony: but a great deal respecting it still continues undiscovered. He knows it not by reasoning, but by believing; he is still greatly in the dark, and must wait for fuller light till the Lord see good to afford if. In this sense religion must be mysterious; and even Mr. P.'s revelation, that is the external world, js by his own confession almost as mysterious as the Bible. For on that subject he does not confound mystery with contradiction and absurdity.
The Scriptures plainly ascribe divine perfections and operations, to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; and use the strongest language of person