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once shewn, this would certainly master the
most inveterate prejudices that have been
taken up against those people, and baffle all
the opposition which the present clergy can
possibly make to them, who, perhaps, are
as well qualified, and as much disposed, vio-
lently to oppose whatever may affect their
grandeur, wealth and power, as any Jewish
priesthood ever were. And if the curing all
manner of fickness, and all manner of dif-
eases, among the people, would produce
the forementioned effect, as, I think, it
may fairly be presumed it would, as well
formerly as. now; then, from hence arises a
high degree of probability that the aforesaid
numerous cures ascribed to the apostles
were not really wrought by them; be-
cause, notwithstanding, the apostles (ac-
cording to the history) became greatly ex-
posed to the rage and fury of the people
thereby. This account, therefore, when
taken together appears to me to be incredible.
If an historian introduces such relations into
his history, the truth of which may fairly
and justly be doubted of; then this fo far
affects the whole history, as to weaken it's
credit ; because if it may juftly be suspected
that he either imposed, or was imposed upon,
in one instance, then that may have been

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the case in any other instance ; and confequently, the historian's bare relation will not be sufficient to support the credit of any part of his history, so as to render it indisputable. Besides, the history itself, in which those facts are recorded, may have been greatly corrupted and depraved, as it is allowed to have passed through very bad bands, which is a confideration that ought to be taken into the case. There may many circumstances take place which weaken the credit of facts and records, and yet do not wholly deAtroy that credit ; and that I take to be the case here ; and therefore, admitting Christ's mission to be divine, yet the argument drawn from miracles, as those facts are related in the histories of the ministry of Christ and his Apostles, is far from clearly proving that it was so ; the subject not being without it's difficulties as I have before shewn.

THIRDLY and lastly, the other miracles that come into the present question, that is, which may be supposed to be evidences of the truth and divinity of the Christian revelation, are those that were wrought, or supposed to be wrought, fince the founding of christianity by the immediate successors of Fesus Chrift; but then, these are out of the

reach

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to

gospels and other writings appeared that

fe reach of my enquiry, as they are contained

in records that have not come within the

compass of my reading ; and therefore, all len that I can observe upon the case is this, viz. afe

that, according to the accounts I have met tly

with, at the beginning of those times, or in

the second century, miracles were wrought in ch great abundance, of which some accounts

are so extravagant as to be suspected even by
those who readily go into the belief of mi-
racles in general, and this weakens the crea
dit of the rest. For if the Christian writers
of that time, in order to serve the cause of
christianity, would venture to exceed the
bounds of truth in some instances; then
this renders their other relations the lefs cre-

dible, or the more justly to be suspected. 1

According to the learned, the second centu3

my abounded with religious frauds, many

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must have been fictitious, and were deemed
fpurious ; which plainly shews that the wri-
tings of those times cannot with certainty
and safety be relied upon, because those who
made the separation betwixt them had no
certain infallible rule whereby to distinguish
the genuine from the spurious. And tho' it
may be pretended those bilhops who settled!

the

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the canon of the New Testament acted upon, or according to evidence, at least with regard to all those epistolary parts of it which were directed to particular persons and churches; that is, the judgments of those men were guided in making the separation betwixt books that were genuine and those that were spurious, by those letters they had received from the feveral persons and churches to whom the epistles of the apostles had been fent ; yet, perhaps, those vouchers may as juftly be suspeated as what they were brought to vouch for. And supposing the canon of the New Testament to have been settled so early as the second century; yet that does not contribute greatly to it's reputation ; because at that time fraud and imposition abounded, as is most obvious from the many historical and epistolary writings that then took place, which were confessedly Spurious. And if such spurious writings were put upon the world at that time; then it is not unnatural to suppose that letters of credence might be forged, or greatly corrupted, in order to stamp the character of genuine upon them. Besides, councils that have been convened on a religious account have seldom acted with that fairness, freedom and

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impartiality that they ought; nor have those
councils been principally made subservient to
truth and right, but rather to serve the
purposes of interest, of party and faction,
as experience has, and the histories of those
councils do plainly shew. Nor was a coun-
cil held in the second century, (the very time
in which religious frauds and lying for reli-
gious purposes abounded) likely to have been
more fair and ingenuous, or to act with
more honesty and integrity than councils at all
other times. The Diotrepheses who loved
to have the pre-eminence; no doubt, in the
second century, as well as at other times,
carried things with an bigb hand their own
way; and tho' merit and evidence, might
then, as usual, be pretended to be the ground
of their determinations; yet it is too well
known that interest and party-zeal generally,
if not always, have bore the greater sway.
St. Paul, (no doubt, very justly) observed
of the Christians of the first century, Phi-
lippians ii. 21. All seek their own, not the
things which are Jesus Christ's. Now, if the
generality of Christians in the apostolic age
were governed by their interest, and not by
the laws of their master, or by the dehgn and
intention of Christianity ; then what must

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