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knowledge that I wish I was fully persuaded of the Truth of your Religion ; which seems indeed, upon farther Consideration, to be a rational Institution, and well laid together, which lays down the Laws of Morality more exactly and fully, than the ordinary Reason of Mankind, which gives an Account of the grand Periods and Revolutions of the World, and God's providential Dispensations, beyond common Philosophy, and the Light of Nature ; and if I could get rid of some other Doubts, which I beg you will at your Leisure satisfy, then I hope you will make a thorough Convert of me.
I was now the declining Time of the Year, and the Summer was well nigh spent ; when in a Morning which was as curious and delightsome, as poetical Fancies are wont to describe it, Philalogus had a Mind betimes to take the
Air, as well to receive the pleasant Refreshments of fo fine a Day, as to enjoy the Satisfa&ion of a solitary Walk, whịch would the better entertain his
studious studious Thoughts. From the back Part of his House he had a Row of Trees, which led down directly to the River's Side, along which, for the Space of almost a Mile, Nature had thrown up a curious green Bank, somewhat resembling an artificial Terrace ; which adapting it self to the natural Winding of the River, did afford at the same Time a very agreeable Prospect, and a delicious Walk. Philologus had no sooner come to the River's Side, but he clpies at a Distance, upon the same Bank, Credentius, with a Book in his Hand, walking softly and reading. Philologus with more than ordinary Hafte makes up towards him, whom when he came pretty near, he accosts in this manner.
Phil. O my dear Catechist, good Morrow to you. I find your Divinity is up before our Humanity. I am afraid these ill-natured Fathers, Credentius, will not ler you either eat
or sleep. Cred. Good Morrow to you, kind Sir. I find both Morning and Evening you are in a pleasant Vein, and that you can make merry with your friends as soon almost as you are up. I assure you, Sir, my Study seldom spoils my Stomach, or hinders my Repofe ; and this Book I have in my Hand, is none of those formidable Fathers you are so scared at. It is a Book wrote by a foreign Divine, a very ingenious and learned Man; it is Monsieur Le Clerc's Causes of Incredulity ; wherein he has handsomely shewn, that the Christian Religion is no Ways to blame, as not affording sufficient Reasons of its Credibility; but that the Gentlemen of your Way are in the Fault, who carry such Vices or Prejudices within your felves, as do estrange you from that admirable Religion, which otherways you could have no Exception against. I will not trouble you with a particular Abltract of that excellent Book; I shall only recommend it to your diligent Perusal, which I doubt not, will afford you considerable Advantage, and will save us both fome Words in the Progress of our Conference, if you think fit that we shall proceed therein. And if you will be so kind as to accept it, the Book is at your Service.
Phil. I thank you, Sir, for your Present, and for your Sake I will give it a careful Reading. But in the mean Time I must beg a little more of Credentius's Tutorage, if he has any Thoughts of making a Christian of me ; but truly, I think, I have got fuch weighty Arguments to urge against your Rcligion, that if you would buc lay aside your Prejudice and Bigotry, I should not despair of making you an Infidel. Hitherto we have had only fome little Skirmishes with you, and have made only Attacks upon the Out-works of Christianity, but now you must expect that we shall assault the very Heart and Virals of it. Though the World should not be eternal, nor Moses's History of the Creation and Fall ridiculous ; though natural Religion should be a less perfect Rule of Morals, and Prophesy not Enthusiasm, nor Christ's Satisfaction and Intercession subject to seeming Abfurdities ; yet if there be Reason to suspeat the Grounds of Christianity, and if I can make out, that the Proofs which it pretends to, are weak and shallow, that the Sincerity of the first Propagators of it is to be questioned, that the Body of its Doctrines is contrary to Reason and common Sense, and those Books which are said to be of divine Inspiration, cannot be thought to be wrote by Men of good Understanding ; I say, if I can make out all this, I hope I may have the Liberty to be an Unbeliever still ; but if you have the Luck to convince me, Credentius, I will assure you, your Religi-. on shall be mine. And indeed it will be my great Honour to subscribe to his Opinion, which in every Thing else, besides Religion, I would blindly follow.
Cred. I pray God give that Issue to our Endeavours ; not that I am fond of the Honour of a Victory over fo great an Adversary as Philologus, but that you may be delivered from the Danger of these ill Opinions, and that the Example of your Conversion inay draw in (as I doubt not but it will) a Swarm of other little retailing Unbelievers, who do pin their Infidelity upon your Sleeve.
499.00 Of the Authority of SCRIPTURE:
Of the Predictions of CHRIST.
Phil. UT to spend no more Time in Preamble, that
we may make an End of our Dispute this Day, I will tell you in what Method I design to range the objections, which I shall confront your Religion with. I now come in order to speak to the Authority of the Scriptures ; and all that I shall say upon this Subject, I shall reduce to these two general Heads : Speaking first of the subject Matter contained in these two Books : And secondly, Of the Books themselves, their Stile, reputed Authors, and the like. Nor shall I go about, to take to Task all the Books of the Old Testament, under the first Head, but confine my self only to fome Particulars of the New ; As the ancient pretended Predictions of the Meffias, the History of the Lives of Christ and his Apostles, the supposed Miracles done by them, and the Doctrines they preached. I shall begin with the Predictions of the Messias. Now there, which many
Christians take to be strong Proofs of your Religion, I look upon to be the greatest Weaknesses in Christianity. For there are ma, ny Places of the Old Testament, which you quote for Prophesies of Christ, which bear no more Relation to him, than
if you capped as many Verses out of Homer or Virgil. You make a mighty Stir with God's threatning the Serpent, in the third of Genesis; and yet that does not seem to me to be more a Prophesy of the Messias, than the Story of Cadmus; the plain Sense of it seems only to be, that when the Serpent was doomed to creep on the Ground, Men should tread upon it ; which is all can