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want them for here, if they be genuine and true, i. e. if they were written by those Authors whose Names they bear, Authors who knew the several Facts they relate, and relate nothing but what really came to pass. And of this we have certainly as much Proof, as we are capable of having of any ancient Book that now is, : or ever was in the World: They have been acknowledged by Writers of all Ages quite down from the Time they were written in to the present, to have been the Writings of Matthew and Mark, : of Luke and of Yohn. And these Persons are owned to have lived in the very Times, when the Things they relate, are faid to have happened ; and so might be very competent Witnesses, whether they really happened or
And indeed had the Evangelists reported Things that never happened, or otherwise than they happened ; it would have been impossible for their Writings ever to have found any Reception in the World: For they published their Writings when the Time, that the Truth or Falshood, of the Things they speak of, must be well known to many
Persons then living : And suppose that those who read their Books would themselves remember the Facts related. And therefore
had not the Facts been true ; 'it would have s E R M. been in the Power of many thousands to have contradicted what was said, 'from their own Knowledge : And consequently their Books, instead of meeting with Credit and Reputation, would inimediately have been despised and rejected as the Dreams of Lúnaticks and Madmen.
Bat since from the very Time they first appeared, they were received as true Accounts of the Facts they related ; and fince they concur in the Relation of the same Facts though the Authors of them wrote at different Times, and from different Places ; without confulting with one another; it is impossible that what they writ should be any Story of their own Invention. And since lastly, their most inveterače Adversaries, both Jews and Gentiles, have' attefted the Truth of their prinə cipal Facts, such as Lucian and Celsus, Porphyry and Julian, Tacitus, and also their own fofephus, who none of them wanted ei: ther Prejudice or Mafice to contradict and deny them if they could; fince even such Men as these have afsented to the Truth of the principal Stories related of Jefus ; I hope I might expect the same Concession, even though I'were speaking to Jews or Infidels ;
ser M. viz, that they would admit of the Testimony
of the Gospels, so far as Matter of Fact is
For it this Day appears that Jesus Chrif
ought to believe the Prophets, because they SERM. so exactly foretold Christ.
For by this they appear to have been true Prophets ; and if so, it will follow further, that their Writings, beyond all imaginable Contradiction, were divinely inspired. For who, but Men inspired by God, could so punctually, foretel Things that so many Ages afterwards were to happen? No Man whatever, by the Strength of his own Faculties, would go about it; nor was it in the Power of any
Genius or Devil to assist him. For foretelling Things to come is a Power which God himself declares none can exert, but he alone whois the true God, and therefore when he mocks the Idols of the Heathens, and challengeth them to give a Proof of their Divinity-Shew the Things that are to come bereafter (faith he,) that we may know that ye are Gods, Isa. xli. 23. plainly intimating that God only certainly foreknows future Events ; such especially as depend upon contingent Causes, and the Determinations of Men’s free Will. If he therefore only foreknows them, it is he only can reveal them; and therefore Moses and the Prophets, who foretold the Events relating to Christ, must all do it by Inspiration from him.
SER M. And indeed had it been otherwise, had II.
the Books of the Old Testament been meer buman Compohtions ; had they been indited by Men only, though the wiseft of Men ; can we imagine that our Saviour in every Thing he either did or suffered, would have paid such a Regard and Deference to them? That he should submit to and undergo so many severe Trials and grievous Afflictions, only for the Sake of fulfilling some Saying, or answering some Character preserved in the Writings of some Men of old, that had happened to write many Hundreds of Years bea, fore him. And yet this we very well know he did, and that he himself frequently declared, that it lay upon hiin to do so. Every Thing he did, was done, because the Scriptures had said it should be done. When he was apprehended in the Garden, Matt. xxvi. 53, 54. he could have prayed to his Father, and presently have had more than 12 Legions of Angels : But how then (faith he) shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? And at his Crucifixion, bis Goat without Seam was not rent, John xix. 23, 24. But the Soldiers taft Lots for it, whose it should be ; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which faith, They parted my Rayment among them, and for my