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Chap. I. The Case of the Dæmoniac who resided among the
OF THREE OF
OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR'S MIRACLES:
THE RAISING OF JAIRUS'S DAUGHTER, THE WIDOW OF NAIN'S SON, AND LAZARUS.
IN ANSWER TO THE OBJECTIONS
MR. WOOLSTON'S FIFTH DISCOURSE ON THE MIRACLES OF OUR SAVIOUR.
THE ensuing vindication was drawn up about nine months since. But it was done for my own satisfaction, without any view to a publication at that time. And when the Reverend Dr. Harris's remarks on the case of Lazarus came out, I thought the public and Mr. W. had received in a short compass a full answer to all the material objections of the discourse, with which these papers are concerned.
Nor did I determine to send them to the press, till after I had seen a passage in Mr. W.'s defence of his Discourses, p. 61, where he says: "Whoever was the author of the foresaid treatise, [The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resur'rection of Jesus]he humbly and heartily begs of him to what in the conclusion of it he has us some hopes of, the trial of the witnesses of the resurrection of 'Lazarus, because his Rabbi's objections to it are a novelty and curiosity, which, by way of such a reply to them, he 'should be glad to see handled.' I also wish the ingenious author of that performance may be at leisure to grant Mr. W.'s request. In the mean time Mr. W. still expressing a particular regard for his Rabbi's objections, I thought it not amiss to send abroad this Vindication, which I had by
Vindication of Three of our Saviour's Miracles.
If Mr. W. by way of such a reply, means a reply drawn up with the wit and spirit of that author, I free y own it much above my capacity, and am not so vain as to attempt it. If by way of such a reply he means a reply without abusive railing terms, or invoking the aid of the civil magistrate, I have done it in that way. I wish Mr. Woolston no harm; I only wish him a sincere conviction and profession of the truth effected and brought about by solid reasons and arguments, without pains or penalties. And in this point I agree exactly with that learned Dominican, De Maussac, who in his Prolegomena to Raymond Martini's Pugio Fidei, written against Moors and Jews, says: We 'must with Tertullian openly profess, that the new law does 'not defend itself by the sword of the magistrate: forasmuch as it has pleased Christ the author of it, that no man should be forced to the embracing of his law by the punishments ' of this life, or the fear of them, as appears from many places of the New Testament, not only of Paul, but also of John, ́ and Luke, and Matthew. Nor is it, as the same father says ' at the end of his book to Scapula, a part of religion to force religion, which must be taken up freely, not upon compul'sion. Who will lay upon me the necessity of believing 'what I will not, or of not believing what I will? as Lactan'tius says. Nothing is so voluntary as religion. In which, if the mind be averse, religion is quite destroyed. Faith is to be wrought by persuasion, not by compulsion. Severity has always done harm, and always will do harm: and our minds, like noble and generous steeds, are best managed with an easy rein; rather by reason than autho'rity, rather by good words than by threats.'a
When, at the erecting the Royal Society, into which were freely admitted men of different religions and countries, some it is likely, were apprehensive of this free converse of various judgments, Dr. Sprat frankly asserts, that our 'doctrine and discipline [those of the church of England]
a Nam cum Tertulliano palam est profitendum, legem novam non se vindicare ultore gladio: quod Christo ejus auctori placuerit neminem ad receptionem suæ legis cogi hujus vitæ pœnis, vel earum metu, ut patet ex variis Novi Testamenti locis, tum Pauli, tum Joannis, tum Lucæ, tum Matthæi : quod non sit religionis, eodem teste ad Scapulam in fine, cogere religionem, quæ sponte suscipi debet, non vi. Quis mihi imponat necessitatem vel credendi quod nolim, vel quod velim non credendi? ait Lactantius. Nihil tam voluntarium quam religio. In quâ si animus aversus est, jam sublata, jam nulla est. Fides autem suadenda est, non imperanda; nocuit enim, et nocebit semper, rigor: et ingenia nostra, ut nobiles et generosi equi, melius facili fræno reguntur, docendo magis quam jubendo, monendo quam minando.
History of the Royal Society, p. 63, second edition.