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brings in Eris, the Son of Harmonins, speaking of the State
You cannot say that this is related like one of the idle
Talcs, which people are wont to raise about Ghosts, rising from which they fancy they have seen, it may be between i he deal sleeping and waking, in the Night-time, when any thing wexceptio
may be made every thing by Fancy,or Fear, or Prepossession.
under no Danger for sticking to him, tho’ before he was sure he was the Messias ; then how should be seal it with his Blood that he was fo, and that he was risen from the Dead, when he was sure (upon your Suppofition) he was an Impostor. Nothing could work this great Change in him, but that he was absolutely certain that he was risen from the Dead, to make him thus couragcously to his Death own this Matter of Fact. Or, ,
if you fuppose that all the Disciples combined together 'to propagate this Story; yet how should Five Hundred more of the Brethren, whom he is said to be seen by 1 Cor. xv. 6. agree in the fame Forgery? Two or Three can hardly ever so agree upon a false Story, to make things to hang together, that the Cheat shall not be difcovered; but that such a Number of these Thould be in a Cabal, to make such a Lie pass upon the World, and none of all these fall off or falter in their Evidence, I am fure is impossible. The Apostle St. Paul says, when he wrote that Epistle to the Corinthians, That many of these Five Hundred Brethren were then alive; and therefore no one can suppose him to have had the Confidence, to have appealed to so many Witnesses, if the Matter had not been unquestionable.
Think you not that every Jerv or Gentile, that haď been startled with this strange Relation, would not have enquired, when he came to Jerusalem, of the Truth of these Matters; where there were so many people, that could inform him of the perfect Certainty ? and, if he had not received full Satisfaction by indubitable Evidence, do you think that ever he would have professed such a strange and hazardous Faith? Imagine, thar a remarkable Person who was publickly executed at London, and afterwards buried, and a Guard set to attend the Grave, that no one should play Tricks with the Body; imagine, that this executed and interred Person, should
appear within a few Days, fuppose, in a Court of Judicature, or in a Church, where five Hundred People were gathered together, who all knew him, and should there converse with them, be handled by them, and thew
them the discriminating Marks of his Body, think now what a Noise this would make. But if the five bundred Persons should all constantly affirm the Truth of the Thing; who could forbear believing it, tho' ever fo strange; especially if the Relarors got only Ill-Will, and Danger, for reporting it would not every body, who came to London, enquire into the Truth of this Story, where it was so easie to be satisfied about it, and any one of the meanest Capacity might find out whether it was a Cheat or no? For if he found that such a grcat Number of Eye-witnesses did positively avow the Truth of the Matter of Fact, and all agree upon the same Circumstances in their Relation, at the same Time when the Government was threatning them for the speaking of it, it is impossible but that such Perfon, if unprejudiced, must believe the Relation, notwithstanding the surprisingness of it. For Men may with as much Reason disbelieve their own Eyes, as the concurrent Testimony of such a Number of Witnesses.
Phil. But then there is something in the Evangelists related, which makes this whole Matter look suspicious, and that is the Story of the Disciples stealing may ibe Body. 'Tis certain there was some fuch Story among the Jews, or else the Writers of the Gospel would not have been salving it, and when the common People found the Body missing, 'twas easie to persuade them Christ was risen from the Dead.
Cred. It is allow'd, that this was a Story frequent among the Jews in the Time of Justin Martyr, who makes mere tion in two Places of an Embassy, sent from the Sanhedrin to all the dispersed Jews, to take heed of a new Sett, raised by one Jesus, a Galilean, whom they had crucified; but his Disciples stcaling away his Body, pretended he was risen from the Dead, and did ascend into Heaven. And now we have allow'd you this Story, What does it make for you? Nay, rather, What a wonderful Support is it of the Truth of our Saviour's Resurrection For this story continuing among the Jesus, does very much confirm the Truth of the Evans gelijt's Relation ; and if 'tis plain they tell Truth in one
Part of the Matter of fact, they must be fupposed to do so in the rest. If they be so open and sincere as to relate that malicious Stery, which the Fews had trump'd up against them, why should we think, they are not as Faithful in any Thing else ? All St. Matthew adds, more than what the Sanhedrin own in their circulatory Letter, is, That there was a Guard set, which is very probable; for they who believed Christ to be an Impostor, and who, they knew, had foretold to his Disciples, That he would rise again the third Day, would naturally have suspected that such a Trick might be play'd; but if they took Care to guard the Scpulchre for three or four Days, they knew they should render then the Imposture most manifest. Therefore, I say, there is no Reason to suspect the Truth of St. Matthew's Relation as to the Guard, but that he told the Story just as 'twas related among the Jews, in the Time when he wrote. For no one can suppose he was so confident, as to make mention of Soldiers being placed about the Sepulchre to watch, if there had been no such Thing; and when there were so many people alive, who could have contradicted it?
And now see how clearly this proves the Truth of Christ's Refurrection. For this manifestly evinces, That our Saviour had predicted his Resurrection, which made the Jews fo cautious against his Disciples practising any Thing, which might seem to make good their Master's Word. But unless Jesus Christ really knew he was to rise again, how could he be so hardy to assert it? If he design'd only an Imposture upon the World, and to have the Credit of being the Founder of a new Religion, this was the most imprudent Means in the World to effect it. For if he did not rise again after his Death, all his Followers must have left his new Religion for Shame, as being set up by a lying Deceiver. But however, no Impostor in the World could be fo filly, to put his Religion in danger of vanishing within three Days after his Death. If an Impostor were not a perfect Ideot, he would allow himself more Time than this, before he would publickly be proclaimed a Cheat ; he would probably have allowed fifty or an hun
dred Tears to run out before his Resurrection, so that before that Time his Friends might be dead, that they might not upbraid his Memory with the Deceit; hoping that, within that time, the new Scēt might get such Strength and Number, as to be able to sublilt, notwithstanding a Dif appointment. Therefore, unless Christ knew certainly he was to rise again in three Days, he would never have pretended to it; for this would have been at once to destroy the Religion he had been so long a preaching, and, within three Day's Time after his Death, not to have one Difciple left. You cannot say he had Hopes, That his Difciples would convey away his Body, for that was too hazardous an Enterprise for them to undertake, who forfook him upon his Trial only; or that those, whom you fuppose fo grossly to be abused by him, should bear him to much Good-will
, as to support his Credit, after he had so basely imposed upon them. : 1,7
Again, This Story carries with it a Crowd of Improbabilities and Contradi&ions, i Suppose the Disciples had a Mind to steal his Body away, yet how should they dare to attempt it? Would a few poor unarmed Men venture to break open a Grave, which was furrounded with Soldiers? But, you'll say, the Soldiers were negligent, and asleep. ' But how could the Disciples suppose, that the Soldiers should be so negligent? And how came they to nick the Time fo exactly, when they were all asleep? For they cannot be supposed, to liave slept all the Time, they were upon the Guard. Or how came none of them to wake, all the Time they were engaged in this Theft? To roll such a great Stone away from the Mouth of a Cave, must take up a considerable Time, and would have made so much Noise, as would, in all Probability, have roused up a drowsy Soldier ; and then the Enterprise had been for ever spoiled, and the Attempters ruin'd. But suppose them to have rolled away the Scone, with all the Silence and Success imaginable; they, to be sure, would venture no Hazard more, but would have flunk away with the Body, as fast as they could. But if the Disci. ples did steal away the Body, they must act like Mad