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be found in one of your Adversaries Books, is, as it stands there, partly a Quotation from you, and partly an Inference of that Adversary, and by Consequence a false Quotation in Dr. Lobb, even from that Author; and, in fine, a Quotation, so far as it consists of your Words, misrepresented by that Author, who comments fallly upon it; I say, since he was capable of This, the Reader may easily imagine, what his Work, wherein he more generally and covertly expresses himself, must be, and how thick set it must be with Mistakes and false Colours. And to his Reader I leave him. I will only add a few Observations on fome Particulars of this Work, which may be of Use to those, who write after him on the same Argument.
1. That since Men pretend to write against the Deists, and to prove the Truth of Chriftianity to them; and since they pretend, that (d) there are many solid Arguments, which demonstrate the Truth of it; it is my humble Opinion, that they fhould not call upon the Deists (e) to sew that God never bore Witness to the Truth of the Gospel, and that the Evidences, inßsted on to prove the Affirmative, never existed. This puts the Deists upon an unreasonable Hardship; who may justly require Proofs from those, who would impose a reveald Religion on them; and who may justly think it sufficient, either merely
(d) Pr. p. v.
(e) 16. see also p. xv, xvi.
to deny, till Proofs are produced, or to invalidate the Proofs produced. It seems strange to require them to prove the Fallhood of a Revelation, (That is, indeed, of every supposed Revelation) which may be offer'd to them! That is, to prove every Body in the wrong they think mistaken!
It is also my Opinion, that in arguing with Deists, and in proving the Truth of Christianity to them, Men should not argue from the (f) Facts or Miracles, as related in the New Testament, till they have proved the divine Authority of the Books of the New Testament. Which yet Dr. LOBB does, without offering any other Proof of their Authority, but what is contain'd in these four general Propofitions ;
1. (8) “ That the Writers of those his“ torical Accounts, contain’d in the holy Scrip“ tures, knew them be true. 2. That they “ were Men of known Integrity; and mani“ festly neither had, nor could have any " worldly Interest to induce them to give a “ false Account of Things ; 'nay, that the " writing and publishing the Accounts we “ have in their Books was plainly against “ their worldly Interest, and exposed them to “ many Hazards, and grievous sufferings. 3. “ That, tho they publish'd their Accounts, “ when they might easily have been dif“ proved, if false, yet they were never dif“ proved by any Enemies. 4. That the ex
() Defence, p. 14. 43.
(8) P. 13,
"traordinary Witness and Testimony of God "not only attended them, but those that “ believed their History, and their Doctrine ; “ those that obey'd the Gospel, they preach'd, “ and embraced the Religion they taught.”
I also conceive it to be no good Manner of arguing with the Deists, to prove, that (b) the Christian Religion was confirm'd by the Distributions or Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and by other Miracles, from some of the first Fathers of the Church (whom Dr. LOBB quotes from WHITBY) down to the third Čentury, asserting that the Gifts of the Spirit and the Power to do Miracles existed in their Times. The primitive Fathers were such Miracle-mongers, and were either so imposed on by the false Relations of others or such Forgers of them; as that, instead of verifying the Truth of the Miracles they report, they serve only to depreciate the Force of Testimony in the Case of Miracles. (i) Tanta fuit primis fæculis, says the learned and pious Bishop Fell, as cited by you, fingendi licentia, tam prona in credendo facilitas, ut rerum. gestarum fides graviter exinde laboraverit; nec orbis tantum terrarum, fed & Dei ecclefia de temporibus fuis mythicis merito queratur. And Mr. Dodwel, who was a remarkable Admirer of the Fathers, as well as most knowing in their Writings, gives This as a Reason for not defending his Dissertation
161 P. 26. 38,
(i) Dif. of the Grounds, p. 27.
concerning the Paucity of ihe Martyrs, viz. (k) the great Veneration he had for the Goodness and Piety of several of the Fathers, who, he says, were too easy of Belief of Matter of Fatt, not fufficiently attested. Besides, I do not see, why Dr. LOBB should confine Miracles to the Beginning of the third Century. For if there is any Truth in ecclesiastical Hiltory, Miracles appear to have been more frequent and numerous afterwards, and especially as Popery prevaild; under which not only numerous Miracles, in all Places, are said to have been done, but are also attested in most ample Manner, and most particular Enquiries have been made into the Truth of the Miracles wrought by them, have been canonized for Saints ; as appears by the Acts of their Cam nonization.
II. Secondly, I conceive that the Writers against the Deists do not argue from a good Topick, when they say, (1)“ it is an eafy “ Matter, for Men of Parts and Learning, to “ puzzle common People in the plainest “ Cases, and to start Difficulties, and raise “ Objections against the most evident Truths ; “ and so artificially to put Propositions to“ gether, as to make false Conclusions seem « naturally to follow from them ;” and when they infer from the Evidence they bring in Behalf of Christianity, that Men may be sure of its Truth, though there would be ten thoufand Difficulties objected to it, which they are (k) 16. p. 95. (2) Desence, p. 96, 97. A a 4
not able to answer. Will not such Topicks serve any Causes and may they not be turn'd, with Advantage, upon the Advocates of Chrif tianity ; which has all the Education, all the Interest and Power in these parts of the World, on its Side ; and consequently, therefore, almost all the Men of Parts and Learning on its Side, who know how to puzzle the common People in the plainest Cafes, and to start Difficulties against the most evident Truths, and so artificially put Propofitions together, as to make false Conclusions seem naturally to follow from them, and who, among other Topicks of Persuasion, pretend, that a Man ought to assent to Propositions upon the Proofs they give of their Truth, though there should be ten thousand Difficulties objected, which he is not able to answer?
III. Lastly, I conceive, that in writing against the Deists, they should not be treated as (m) Men of Guilt, and as in a dangerous State, on Account of their supposed Errors, (which ought to be deem'd involuntary) and for publishing them to the World. To treat Men after this Manner for Opinions, which they are led into by their Enquiries into the Truth of Things, is stopping all Enquiry into Truth, and subjecting them to a mere Lóbbian Authority, and, in a Word, putting them into a moft irrational and absurd State. For if Men can be guilty of Sin, and in a dangerous State for any Opinions they take up with, in