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Representation of its primitive State, to be deftitute of other or external Arguments; and Nothing should seem more false and more remote from the original State of Things, than the Assertion of the Reverend Mr. Reeves, (a) that if Christianity be a Cheat, ’tis a Cheat, [fo proved or contrived) that we are bound ta embrace and follow.
That if those Proofs are invalid, then is
N the other Side, if the Proofs for Chri
stianity, from the Old Testament be not valid ; if the Arguments founded on those Books be not conclusive ; and the Propheses cited from thence be not fulfill'd; then has Christianity no just Foundation ; for the Foundation, on which Jesus and his Apostles built it, is then invalid and false. Nor can Miracles, said to be wrought by Jesus and his Apostles, in Behalf of Christianity, avail any Thing in the Case; for Miracles can never render a Foundation valid, which is in itself invalid ; can never make a false Inference true ; can never make a Prophecy fulfill’d, which is not fulfill'd; and can never mark out a MESSIAS, or Jesus for the MESSIAS, if both are not mark'd out in the Old Testament.
(a) Reeves's Apol. Vol. 2. p. 137.
Besides, Miracles, said to be wrought, may be often justly deem'd false Reports, when attributed to Persons, who claim an Authority from the Old Testament, which they impertinently alledge to support their Pretences. God can never be supposed often to permit Miracles to be done for the Confirmation of a false or pretended Mission; and if at any Time he does permit Miracles to be wrought in Confirmation of a pretended Mission, we have Directions from the (6) Old Testament not to regard such Miracles; but are to continue firm to the antecedent Revelation confirm'd by Miracles, and contain'd in the Old Testament, notwithstanding any Miracles; which (in the Opinion of some Divines, (c) as splendid Gifts as they are, are no Demonstrations of the Truth, but) under the Circumstance of attesting something contrary to an antecedent Revelation, confirm’d by Miracles, are certainly no Proofs of the Truth. No new Revelation, however proved by Miracles, ought ever to be received, unless it confirms, or does not contradict the preceding, standing, true Revelation.
Moreover, (d) Those among the Jews, who expected a Messias or Deliverer, (for all the Jews did not (dd) in our Saviour's Time, and perhaps none before the Captivity) ever expected a Real or Temporal Deliuerer.
(6) Deut. 13. 1, 2.
(c) Hickes's Apol. Vind. of the Church of England. p. 23, 24. Stillingfleet's Orig. Sacræ. 1. 2. c. 5. n. 7:
(d) Luke 2. 38. (dd) Le Clerc sur l'endroit. Ib. Hift. Eccl. p.4.
Such the (e) Apostles before the Death of Jesus expected he would be. Such they expected he would be after his Resurrection, when they ask'd him, whether (f) at this Time he would restore again the Kingdom of Ifrael ; in which Notion he seems to leave them, by not setting them right as to the Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel ; but taking their Notion for granted, he only answers as to the Time, by telling them, that it was not for them to know the Time, when he would restore the Kingdom of Israel; and all the primitive Christians were, for a considerable Time after the Ascension of Jesus, in the vulgar Error of expecting him to come in the Clouds and reign personally and triumphantly upon Earth in a Kingdom that was at hand. The Jews expected a MessiAS, who was to change their miserable Condition into a happy one, and to govern them by their own Law, without the least Imagination of a mere (8) spiritual Deliverance or any Alteration of their divine Law, (which they thought was (5) to be eternal) in Vertue of a new legislative Power conferr’d on him by God. Pursuant to which they thought the Person and Doctrines of Jesus to be so far from being held forth in the Old Testament, that they (i) knew not whence he was, and look'd on him to be in many Respects different from the Christ
(e) Luke 24. 21.
(f) Acts 1. 6. See Tillotson's Sermons. Vol. 10. p. 226.
($) Scripta Judæi apud Limborchii Amic. Collat. p. 76, 115. (b) Whitby's Note on Gal. 4. 21.
(0) John 9. 29.
they expected from thence; and thought (k) no greater Contradi&tion could be form’d, Nothing in Nature or Terms more irreconcilable, than affirming the same Person to be CHRIST (That is, a triumphant Prince) and to be crucify’d. Wherefore the numerous and wonderful Miracles wrought by Jesus, tho' equal (1) to what the Jews expected from their Messiah, were no Proofs to them, that he was the MESSIAS. They were not in the least disposed to take him for the Messias on (m) Account of them ; but on the contrary they procured him to be crucify'd for pretending to be the Messias, (n) not knowing the Lord of Glory, from his Miracles.
Nor had his Miracles any Effect on his own (0) Brethren, and Kindred, and Family, who seem to have been more incredulous in him, than other Jews. Nor had they the Effect, which naturally they should seem fitted to produce, among his immediate Followers, and Disciples ; some of whom did not (p) believe in him, but deserted him, and particularly had no Faith in him, when he spake of his Sufferings; and thought he could (q) not be the MESSIAS, when they saw him suffer; notwithstanding his Miracles and frequent Declarations to them, that he was the MESSIAS. And the Jews were so rooted in their Notion
(k) Stanhope's Boyl. Lect. First Sermon for 1700. p. 7, 8.
(n) Acts 3. 17 O Mark 6.4. John 7.5.
(0) Ib, 6. 64, 66. (9) Luke 24. 21.
Mark 8. 31.
of a temporal Deliverer, even after the Resura rection and Ascension of Jesus, and the Progress of Christianity grounded on the Belief of Jesus to be the MESSIAS, that they have in all Times of Distress, and particularly in the (r) Apostolical Times in great Numbers follow'd Impostors, who have set up for the MESSIAH with Force and Arms, as the Way to restore the Kingdom of Israel. So that the Jews, who mistook, in this most important Matter, and after the most egregious Manner, the Meaning of their own Books, might, 'till they were set right in their Interpretations of the Old Testament, and were convinced from thence, that Jesus was the MESSIAS, as justly reject Jesus asserting his Mission and Doctrine with Miracles, as any other Person, who, in Vertue of Miracles, would lead them into Idolatry, or into any other real Breach of the Mosaick Law. And the Gentiles, who ought regularly to be converted to Judaism, before they could become Christians, and ought to ground their Christianity on the Old Testament, had a Right to the fame Satisfaction and might want it (as (s) Celsus did) no less than the Jews, whom they might perhaps allow to understand their own Books better than the Apostles, who manifestly put new Interpretations upon them, and those not
(r) Joseph Antiq. 1. 20. C. 2 & 6. Ib. De Bello Jud. 1. 3. c. 23. 1. 7. c. 30. Lent De Pseudo Mesfiis. Vandale Differt. de Origine Idol, &c. p. 227, &c. Tillotson's Sermons. Vol. 13. p. 116, 119, 151. (s) Origen contra Celsum. p. 78, 343