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ference between a real and a pretended Foundation ? Let him try it in his own favourite Virtue, Sincerity. Sincerity is by common Consent the very best Foundation of a good Character, and therefore all Knaves pretend to it. Will the Considerer in this Case say, that which is the Foundation of
bad CharaEter, cannot be the Foundation of a good one? It is to no Purpose to controvert such Points ; and I think this Passage from the Tryal was produced, only to give the Confiderer an Opportunity of entring into his darling common Place of abusing Revelation, and drawing together what has been retailed an hundred times over by all the little Traders in Infidelity, and has been as often answered to the Satisfaction of all sober Enquirers.
The first point that more directly affects the Credit of the Resurrection, is the Nature and Quality of the Evidence. The Considerer begins with complaining grievously, that all the Evidence is on the Side of the Resurrection, and that he can find none against ita. And this he thinks is a very hard Case upon him. If the Resurrection, says he, be a Fraud. or the Evidence forged, what Books have we to prove. it fob? This is indeed a hard Case. But if he should take it into his Head to prove that Cæfar was not killed in the Senate-house, he
Third Edit. p. 5.
a First Edis. p. 7. p. 9. Taird Edit. p.
might begin with the same Complaint; for all the Evidence would be on one side, and all against him.
But he imagines there was anciently a great Stock of Evidence against the Truth of the Resurrection, but that it has been unhappily lost or destroyed. 'Tis certain, he says, Books have been wrote by Porphyry, Celsus, and others, which contained what the Christians thought were best answered by stifling and burning. It is well known from fome Fragments of them in Origen, that they contradi&ted what is related in the Evangelists c. Who furnishes the Confiderer with his Learning, I know not; but whoever he is, he has cheated him abominably. Fragments of Porphyry' and Celfus in Origen! why Origen was dead before Porphyry set Pen to Paper. When Origen answered Celsus, Porphyry could not be above sixteen Years of Age, and not above twenty or twenty one when Origen died. I imagine by the Order in which he places them, that he took Porphyry to be older than Celsis, and that Origen having wrote against Celsius, could not but take notice of Porphyry too. But there was indeed about an hundred Years between Celsus and Porphyry.
Porphyry and Celsus, he says, contradikted what is related in the Evangelists; and so does the Confiderer too; but what then? Is the Cre
b Firít Edit. p. 8.
Third Edit. p. 5.
dit of any History the worse, because it is wantonly contradicted, without Evidence or Authority of any Sort to support the Contradiction? The Considerer, I suspect, means to introduce Celsus and Porphyry, as Witnesses against the History of the Gospel. If he does, he is mistaken. They were just such Witnefes against the Gospel as he is; and for Want of Evidence to contradict the Evangelists, they were forced to rely upon the Disagreements, which they supposed were to be found in the several Accounts given by the Evangelists.
Had there ever been good Evidence against the Gospel History, it could not have been loft in Celsus's Time. For Celfus lived at no great Distance from the Apostolic Age; at a Time when all Religions were tolerated but the Christian; when no Evidence was stifled, no Books destroyed, but those of Christians. And yet Celfus laboured under the fame Want of Evidence, as Woolston and his Auxiliaries, and had the Gospel only to search (as Origen more than once observes) for Evidence against the Gospel. A strong Proof that there never had been Books of any Credit in the World, that questioned the Gospel Facts, when so spiteful and so artful an Adversary as Celsus made no Use of them.
Celfus admits the Truth of Christ's Miracles. The Difference between him and Origen lies in the Manner of accounting for them; the one ascribing them to the Power of God, the
other to the Power of Magic. So that if the Considerer will stand to the Evidence of his own Witness, the Question will not be, whether the Miracles are true in Fact (for that is granted on both sides) but whether the Truth of the Miracles infers the divine Authority of the Performer ? Now can it be supposed that Celfus would have admitted the Miracles of Christ as real Facts, had he not been compelled to it by the universal Consent of all Men in the Age he lived?
But why does the Confiderer complain for Want of the Assistance of Celfus, and lead his Readers to imagine that the Books of Celsus were destroyed because they could not be answered ? Does he not know that there is hardly a plausible Argument, produced by Woolston or himself, that is not borrowed from Celsus? The Truth is, that the Objections of Celjus are preserved, and preserved in his own Language, Origen's Answer is not a general Reply to Celfus, but a minute Examination of all his Objections, even of those whịch appeared to Origen most frivolous; for his Friend Ambrosius, to whom he dedicates the Work, desires him to omit nothing. In order to this Examination Origen states the Objections of Celjus in his qwn Words; and that nothing might escape him, he takes them in the Order in which Celfus had placed them. Celfus then, as it happens, is fafe; and the Confiderer needs not la-ment over him any more.
The Case of Porphyry is different; there is little remaining of him, but some dispersed Fragments to be found in Eufebius and Jerom. However this is certain from the Account remaining of him, that he had no Evidence against the Gospel History, but what the Gofpel itself furnished; in which he thought he faw, or pretended to see, Contradiction. How indeed thould he have any other Evidence, when Celfus had no other, who lived so much nearer the Apostolic Age, than he did ?
If the Confiderer is laying in a Stock of Evidence on the Antichristian Side, he may put down in his List the Emperor Julian and the Talmudic- Books of the Jews, together with some others, whose Evidence, such as it is, is still in being. Here then are Witnesses against the Apostles, the most determined Enemies that Christianity ever had; and yet the Confiderer will find no Reason to thank them for their Evidence. They agree with Celsus in admitting the Miracles, and so in truth serve only to support that Cause, which they meant to destroy.
The Cafe then standing thus, the Confiderer must be content to follow the Steps of his great Leaders, and search the Gospel for Objections against the Gospel. This is another Hardship and the Subject of another Complaint, If the Resurrection be a Fraud or the Evidence forged, what Books have we to prove it fo? Can it be expected that an equitable ilJue should be