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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, who 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
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 upon 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 !
TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY
CHRISTIAN. It is strange you should stand it out so against your own happiness, and employ your whole wit and skill to work in yourself a disbelief of any future rewards or punishments, only that
you may live easy (as you think) in this world, and enjoy
) your pleasures. Which yet you cannot enjoy free and undisturbed, from the fear of those things that
come, the event of which you pretend not to be sure of; and, therefore, are sure of a life full of trouble, that admits not of any consolation, and of a miserable and wretched death, according to the utmost that you yourself propose.
Deist. How can you say that, when I propose to live without any fear of those things ?
fear of those things? I fear not hell, and I have discarded the expectation of heaven, because I believe neither.
C. Are you sure there are no such things ?
C. Then you must remain in a doubt of it. And what a condition it is to die in this doubt, when the issue is eternal misery! And this is the utmost, by your own confession, that you can propose to yourself. Therefore, I called yours a disbelief, rather than a belief of any thing. It is we Christians who believe, you Deists only disbelieve. And if the event should prove as you would have it, and that we should all be annihilated at our death, we should be in as good a condition as you.
But on the other hand, if the event should prove as we expect it, then you are eternally miserable, and we eternally happy. Therefore, one would think it the wisest part to take our side of the question; especially considering that those poor pleasures, for the sake of which you determine yourselves against us, are no real enjoyments. Nay, we had better be without them than have them, even as to this life itself. Is not temperance and a healthful constitution more pleasant than those pains and aches, sick head and stomach, that are inseparable companions of debauchery and excess, besides the clouding our reason, and turning sottish in our understanding.
D. We take pleasure in them for the time, and mind not the consequences.—But, however, a man cannot believe as he pleases. And, therefore, not
, withstanding all the glorious and terrible things which you speak of, it makes nothing to me, unless you can evidently prove them to be so. must still leave me to judge for myself, after you have done all
C. What I have said, is only to dispose you to