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himself; so, if he has, no apparent Difficulties, or at present inexplicable Mysteries, can release us from our Obligations to believe in such Revelation; for that what God reveals must be true, is as evident as any one Proposition whatsoever.—In short, the Mysteries of a pretended revealed Religion will not prove the Truth of that Religion, but the Truth of that Religion will prove the Truth of such Mysteries.—Faith accordingly in this Case in revealed, as well as natural Religion, would be both rational and implicit; it would be rational, because it would be built upon good Authority; and it would be implicit, with regard to the Belief of such Articles as are utterly above our rational Apprehensions.
These preliminary Truths will, I presume, naturally pave the Way for the ensuing Disquisitions.
TH E Infidels, with whom we are at present concerned, are supposed to acknowledge the Sense and Genuineness of the many Passages, and the obvious Import of the several Texts in the New Testament, that are declaratory of a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead; but through the Reluctancy they feel in themselves to submit their Understandings to what is written, they too readily conclude against the Truth of the Chrijtian Religion, as far as it is pretended to be
of of Divine Institution. If therefore we can rescue our Religion from this Charge of Imposture, the Infidel must give up the Cause at once; because it would be as irrational to dispute any sufficiently attested Truth, or Matter of Fact, because we do not fully and adequately comprehend it, as it would be, implicitly to believe a counterfeit Matter of Fact, merely because it might be possible in itself. For this purpose then, without entering into a Recapitulation of the several standing, and often repeated Proofs of the Truth of Christianity, it will, I trust, be sufficient to insist upon a few material Points; in the Discussion of which, the unavoidable Concessions of the Enemy will furnilh us with very considerable Advantages.
Now the Infidel in the present Question is obliged to grant, that the Christian Religion, setting aside the Peculiarities of it's Theory, is a good Institution, and well adapted to the Welfare and Benefit of Man in his social, relative, and personal Capacity; that it has a plain Tendency to promote the Love of God, and Virtue in the World; in short, that it's Author, considered in the Quality of a moral Law-giver at least, appears to have been a Person of much Piety, of great Probity, and of a competent Understanding. The great Objection he has to make to the Chrijlian System is, that in certain essential Articles it eludes his Apprehen
sions, and obtrudes upon his Capacity. It doe$ so—but the Question is, whether this very Circumstance may not be pleaded as one Argument for it's Truth? For would a Person of common Sense and Prudence, who purposed to introduce a new Religion into the World, and to establish it upon sure Foundations, needlesly intermix with it Doctrines that must appear incredible upon their first Promulgation, and invent Mysteries only to obstruct the Reception, and retard the Progress of the rational and manifest Truths he designed to teach? The Doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead was not of a Nature to answer any imaginable Purpose of Deceit. There was no external Pomp or Parade in the Novelty of it; it was, and is, entirely of a spiritual Importance, tending to rectify Mens Notions of the Deity, and ascertain the proper Objects of their Adoration. The Character Jesus Christ assumed upon Earth, was so far from procuring him present Honour or' Advantage, that it visibly precluded all possible Pretensions to both; and the eminent Humility of his whole Life and Conversation, supposing him to have been an Impostor, was most unseasonably and preposterously affected, as it utterly ruined his Cause in the Judgment of the Jews, whom it was his first Business to gain, by defeating their then sanguine Expectations of a secular Prince.— We must therefore look out of this World for the
supposed Views of this Deceiver in propagating his Religion; and yet his Conduct will even then appear to be equally unaccountable from the abovementioned Principles. For either he believed his own, and the generally received Doctrine to be true, that the human Soul survives the Body, and consequently that there will be a future State of Rewards and Punishments in a Life to come; or that all this is utterly ideal and fanciful, and nothing is subsequent to Death but Corruption and Annihilation. In the latter Case, it appears irreconcileable with the known Principles and Motives of all human Actions, to imagine that any Man would necessarily subject himself to inconceivable Distresses, and certain Destruction, merely for the Sake of a notional Recompence, a popular Fame, of which he supposed himself incapable of having the least Perception: And in the former Case, the Conduct of the Christian Founder, if a Counterfeit, is still more glaringly absurd, as he could not but be convinced, that the Misery reserved for him in the next Life would be proportioned to the Success of his Imposture in this.
And if it be impossible to account for his imposing upon Mankind from the Principles of ordinary Prudence, so will it equally be to reconcile the fame with that Piety and Ihtegrity which make a conspicuous Part of his Character. How
came came it to pass that he, who, as we may reasonably collect from what we are told of him, was punctual in his private Devotions, a constant Attendant on the public Worship, and a zealous Promoter of God's Honour upon all Occasions, should notoriously invade the Rights and Prerogatives he pretended to secure and maintain, and presumptuously exalt himself into an Equality with the Most High? How came it to pass that he, who has confessedly directed Men to many Branches of their Duty in the Relation they bear to one another, should yet deceive them into wrong Notions of the Relation they bear to God? or, in other Words, that he, who manifestly reformed the vitiated Morality both of Jews and Heathens, and established a System of Religion equal, at least, in the Judgment of Infidels themselves, to any one that human Wisdom has, or can produce, should yet lay the first Principles of it in Blasphemy and Absurdity, and corrupt the fundamental Article of all Religion whatsoever?
I am sensible indeed that as unexceptionable as the personal Character, and the moral Doctrine of Jesus Chrift are in the main acknowledged to be by the Bulk of the Deists themselves, there have not been wanting those who have industriously raised Objections to both, which, if well grounded, would indeed be more than sufficient to overturn his