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cept founded on falfe principles is totally omitted, and many new precepts added peculiarly corresponding with the new object of this religion.
Laftly, That fuch a fyftem of religion and morality could not poffibly have been the work of any man, or set of men; much less of thofe obfcure, ignorant, and illiterate perfons, who actually did discover, and publish - it to the world; and that therefore it must undoubtedly have been effected by the interpofition of divine power, that is, that it must derive its origin from God,
ERY little need be faid to establish
my first propofition, which is fingly this: That there is now extant a book intitled the New Testament; that is, there is a collection of writings distinguished by that denomination, containing four hiftorical accounts of the birth, life, actions, difcourfes, and death of an extraordinary perfon named Jefus Chrift, who was born in the reign of Auguftus Cæfar, preached a new religion throughout the country of Judæa, and was put to a cruel and ignominious death in the reign of Tiberius. Alfo one other historical account of the travels, tranfactions, and orations of fome mean and illiterate men, known by the title of his apostles, whom he commiffioned to propagate his religion after his death; which he foretold them he must suffer in confirmation of its truth. To these are added several epiftolary writings, addreffed
addreffed by these perfons to their fellowlabourers in this work, or to the feveral churches or focieties of Chriftians, which they had established in the feveral cities through which they had paffed.
It would not be difficult to prove, that thefe books were written foon after those extraordinary events, which are the subjects of them; as we find them quoted, and referred to by an uninterrupted fucceffion of writers from those to the present times: nor would it be less easy to fhew, that the truth of all those events, miracles only excepted, can no more be reasonably queftioned, than the truth of any other facts recorded in any hiftory whatever as there can be no more reafon to doubt, that there exifted fuch a perfon as Jefus Chrift, speaking, acting, and fuffering in fuch a manner as is there defcribed, than that there were fuch men as Tiberius, Herod, or Pontius Pilate, his cotemporaries; or to fufpect, that Peter, Paul, and James were not the authors of those epiftles, to which their names are affixed,
than that Cicero and Pliny did not write those which are afcribed to them. It might also be made appear, that these books having been wrote by various perfons at different times, and in diftant places, could not poffibly have been the work of a single impoftor, nor of a fraudulent combination, being all ftamped with the fame marks of an uniform originality in their very frame and compofition.
But all these circumftances I fhall pass over unobferved, as they do not fall in with the course of my argument, nor are necesfary for the fupport of it.
books were wrote by the
names are prefixed to them, whether they have been enlarged, diminished, or any way corrupted by the artifice or ignorance of tranflators or tranfcribers; whether in the historical parts the writers were inftructed by a perpetual, a partial, or by any inspiration at all; whether in the religious and moral parts, they received their doctrines from a divine influence, or from the inftructions
and converfation of their master; whether in their facts or fentiments there is always the most exact agreement, or whether in both they fometimes differ from each other ; whether they are in any cafe mistaken, or always infallible; or ever pretended to be fo, I fhall not here difpute: let the Deift avail himself of all thefe doubts and difficulties, and decide them in conformity to his own opinions, I fhall not contend, because they affect not my argument: all that I affert is a plain fact, which cannot be denied, that fuch writings do now exist.