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SHORT AND EASY METHOD
I. In answer to yours of the third instant, I much condole with your unhappy circumstances, of being placed amongst such company, where, as you say, you continually hear the sacred Scriptures, and the histories therein contained, particularly of Moses and of Christ, and all revealed religion, turned into ridicule, by men who set up for sense and reason. And they say that there is no greater ground to believe in Christ than in Mahomet; that all these pretences to revelation are cheats, and ever have been, among Pagans, Jews, Mahometans, and Christians; that they are all alike impositions of cunning and designing men, upon the credulity, at first, of simple and unthinking people, till, their numbers increasing, their delusions grew popular, came at last to be established by laws; and then the force of education and custom gives a bias to the judgments of after ages, till such conceits come really to be believed, being received upon trust from the ages
foregoing, without examining into the original and bottom of them. Which these our modern men of sense (as they desire to be esteemed,) say that they only do; that they only have their judgments freed from the slavish authority of precedents and laws, in matters of truth, which, they say, ought only to be decided by reason; though, by a prudent compliance with popularity and laws, they preserve themselves from outrage, and legal penalties; for none of their complexion are addicted to sufferings or martyrdom.
Now, Sir, that which you desire from me, is some short topic of reason, if such can be found, whereby, without running to authorities, and the intricate mazes of learning, which produce long disputes, and which these men of reason deny by wholesale, though they can give no reason for it, only suppose that authors have been trumped upon us, interpolated and corrupted, so that no stress can be laid upon them, though it cannot be shown wherein they are so corrupted; which, in reason, ought to lie upon them to prove who allege it; otherwise it is not only a precarious, but a guilty plea : and the more, that they refrain not to quote books on their side, for whose authority there are no better, or not so good grounds. However, you say, it makes your disputes endless, and they go away with noise and clamour, and a boast, that there is nothing, at least nothing certain, to be said on the Christian side. Therefore you are desirous to find some one topic of reason, which should demonstrate the truth of the Christian religion, and at the same time distinguish it from the impostures of Mahomet, and the old Pagan world; that our Deists may be brought
to this test, and be obliged either 'to renounce their reason, and the common reason of mankind, or to submit to the clear proof, from reason, of the Christian religion ; which must be such a proof, as no imposture can pretend to, otherwise it cannot prove the Christian religion not to be an imposture. And, whether such a proof, one single proof, (to avoid confusion,) is not to be found out, you desire to know from me.
And you say, that you cannot imagine but there must be such a proof, because every truth is in itself clear, and one; and therefore that one reason for it, if it be the true reason, must be sufficient; and if sufficient, it is better than many; for multiplicity confounds, especially to weak judgments.
Sir, you have imposed a hard task upon 'me: I wish I could perform it. For though every truth is one, yet our sight is so feeble, that '
we cannot always come to it directly, but by many inferences, and laying of things together.
Di . But I think, that in the case before us, there is such a proof as you require, and I will set it down as short and plain as I can. 3.340"
II. First, then, I suppose, that the truth of the doctrine of Christ will be sufficiently evinced, if the matters of fact, which are recorded of him in the gospels, be true; for his miracles, if true, do vouch the truth of what he delivered.
The same is to be said as to Moses. If he brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea in that miraculous manner which is related in Exodus, and did such other wonderful things as are there told of him, it must necessarily follow that he was sent