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the most contemptible of all mankind, since they make them the sole authors of this, the greatest of miracles?
XV. And since the Deists (these men of sense and reason) have so vile and mean an idea of the priests of all religions, why do they not recover the world out of the possession and government of such blockheads ? Why do they suffer kings and states to be led by them; to establish their deceits by laws, and inflict penalties upon the opposers of them? Let the Deists try their hands; they have been trying, and are now busy about it. And free liberty they have.
Yet have they not prevailed, nor ever yet did prevail in any civilized or generous nation, And though they have some inroads among the Hottentots, and some other the most brutal part of mankind, yet are they still exploded, and priests have and do prevail against them, among not only the greatest, but best part of the world, and the most glorious for arts, learning, and war. XVI. For as the devil does
God in his insti, tutions of religion, his feasts, sacrifices, &c. so likewise in his priests, without whom no religion, whether true or false, can stand. False religion is but a corruption of the true. The true was before it, though it be followed close upon the heels. The revelation made to Moses is.older than any history extant in the heathen world. The heathens, in imitation of him, pretended likewise to their revelations : but I have given those marks which distinguish them from the true: none of them have those four marks before-mentioned.
Now the Deists think all revelations to be equally
pretended and a cheat; and the priests of all religions to be the same contrivers and jugglers; and therefore they proclaim war equally against all, and are equally engaged to bear the brunt of all. And if the contest be only betwixt the Deists and the priests, which of them as the men of the greatest parts and sense, let the effects determine it; and let the Deists yield the victory to their conquerors, who, by their own confession, carry all the world before them.
XVII. If the Deists say, that this is because all the world are blockheads, as well as those priests who govern them; that all are blockheads
the Deists, who vote themselves only to be men of sense; this (besides the modesty of it) will spoil their great and beloved topic, in behalf of what they call Na- . tural Religion, against the Revealed, namely, appealing to the common reason of mankind; this they set up against revelation; think this to be sufficient for all the uses of men, here or hereafter, (if there be any after state) and therefore, that there is no use of revelation : this common reason they advance as infallible, at least as the surest guide, yet now cry out upon it, when it turns against them; when this common reason runs after revelation, (as it always has done) then common reason is a beast, and we must look for reason, not from the common sentiments of mankind, but only among the beaux, the Deists.
XVIII. Therefore, if the Deists would avoid the mortification (which will be very uneasy to them) to yield and submit to be subdued and hewed down before the priests, whom of all mankind they hate and despise; if they would avoid this, let them con
fess, as the truth is, that religion is no invention of priests, but of divine original; that priests were instituted by the same author of religion; and that their order is a perpetual and living monument of the matters of fact of their religion, instituted from the time that such matters of fact were said to be done, as the Levites from Moses, the Apostles and succeeding Clergy from Christ, to this day; that no heathen priests can say the same; they were not appointed by the gods whom they served, but by others in after ages; they cannot stand the test of the four rules before-mentioned, which the Christian priests can do, and they only. Now the Christian priesthood, as instituted by Christ himself, and continued by succession to this day, being as impregnable and flagrant a testimony to the truth of the matters of fact of Christ, as the sacraments, or any other public institutions: besides that, if the priesthood were taken away, the sacraments and other public institutions, which are administered by their hands, must fall with them: therefore the devil has been most busy, and bent his greatest force in all ages against the priesthood, knowing that if that goes down, all
goes with it.
XIX. With the Deists, there are others, who throw off the succession of our priesthood, (by which only it can be demonstrated) together with the sacraments and public institutions. And if the devil could have prevailed to have these dropt, the Christian religion would lose the most undeniable and demonstrative proof for the truth of the matter of fact of our Saviour, upon which the truth of his doctrine does depend. Therefore, we may see the
artifice and malice of the devil in all these attempts. And let those wretched instruments, whom he ignorantly (and some by a misguided zeal) has deluded thus to undermine Christianity, now at last look back and see the 'snare in which they have been taken ; for if they had prevailed, or ever should, Christianity dies with them. At least it will be rendered precarious, as a thing of which no certain proof can be given. Therefore, let those of them, who have any zeal for the truth, bless God that they have not prevailed, and quickly leave them; and let all others be aware of them.
And let us consider and honour the priesthood, sacraments, and other public institutions of Christ, not only as a means of grace and helps to devotion, but as the great evidences of the Christian religion. Such evidences as no pretended revelation ever had, or can have.
Such as do plainly distinguish it from all foolish legends and impostures whatsoever.
XX. And now, last of all, if one word of advice would not be lost upon men who think so unmeasurably of themselves as the Deists, you may represent to them what a condition they are in, wlio spend that life and sense which God has given them, in ridiculing the greatest of his blessings, his revelations of Christ, and by Christ, to redeem those from eternal misery, who shall believe in him, and obey his laws.
And that God, in his wonderful mercy and wisdom, has so guarded his revelations, as that it is past the power of men or devils to counterfeit: and that there is no denying of them, unless we will be so absurd as to deny not only the reason but the certainty of the outward senses, not only of one, or two, or three, but of mankind in general. That this case is so very plain, that nothing but want of thought can hinder any to discover it. That they must yield it to be so plain, unless they can show some forgery which has all the four marks before set down. But if they cannot do this, they must quit their cause, and yield a happy victory over themselves : or else sit down under all that ignominy with which they have loaded the priests, of being not only the most pernicious, but (what will gall them more) the most inconsiderate and inconsiderable of mankind.
Therefore, let them not think it an undervaluing of their worthiness, that their whole cause is comprised within so narrow a compass, and no more time bestowed
it than it is worth. But let them rather reflect, how far they have been all this time from Christianity, whose rudiments they are yet to learn! How far from the way of salvation ! How
! far the race of their lives is run, before they have set one step in the road to heaven! And, therefore, how much diligence they ought to use, to redeem all that time they have lost, lest they lose themselves for ever, and be convinced, by a dreadful experience, when it is too late, that the Gospel is a truth, and of the last consequence !