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them to be wicked, nay, they were so far Serm. from that, that the Exemplariness of their
V. Lives, and Purity of their Doctrine, brought Multitudes over to the Christian Religion
In the next Place let us fee, supposing this to be a Cheat, what Motives they could have to contrive and carry it on. People don't use to cheat, unless it be to get by it : But this they could not propose to themselves ; for all the Advantages lay on the other Side : Nay, they were so far from getting any thing by it, that they were sure to meet with nothing but Scorn and Contempt, and to bring themselves into a great deal of Danger by it. Now 'tis highly improbable to suppose that People would run themselves into Danger, and get the Hatred of the World by propagating a Cheat, knowing it to be such. To carry on a Cheat, when there is not only no Profit nor Advantage, but a great deal of Inconvenience, Hazard, and Disadvantage attending it, which might be so easily avoided only by telling the plain Truth, is too monstrous to be believ'd, especially of Men who had no Crime laid to their Charge. But, on the contrary, the greater the Advantages were which they renounced, the stronger Argument it is of their Sincerity, and Goodness
Serm. of their Cause. But they not only undera
went many Disadvantages and Persecutions,
Thus you fee what Evidence we have,
as a good Evidence, nor have the least SERM.
V. Weight in lessening the Testimony of one who did see him. My not seeing a Person after his Resurrection from the Dead, can certainly be no Argument that no one elfe did. They might have been direct Evidences indeed, had the Fact been false; had he not risen, but remain'd still in the Sepulchre. But, instead of that, they are Evidences for the other Side: For when the Angel came and rolld away the Stone froni the Door of the Sepulchre, and told the Women who went there to seek the Lord, that he was not there, but was risen, they were astonised, and went and mew'd the High Priests all the Things that were done. As to their Qualifications for giving Testimony in this Matter, they are very indifferent; for we find, after they had been brib'd, they said, the Disciples came by Night and stole him away. How inconfiftent is this, when we are affur'd they hid themselves for fear of the Jews ! But how is it possible to steal a Body when there is a Guard set to watch it? This does not seem to be well contriv’d at all. Why to this it is answer'd, That it was done while they were asleep. Something, it seemis, must be said; but any thing would have done better than
Serm. this. This looks as if they were in great
probability of supposing them all to be
fee how the Matter of Fact
is not consistent with their Character to do, SERM. even their Enemies themselves being Judges.
V. Neither is it to be supposed that they would lay down their Lives for a Lye, whose Religion teaches them to abhor it, especially since they are sure to be punished for it according to their own Scheme. “. And therefore the Cafe being so, there is no replying to this but by disproving the Fact, all other Arguments being out of the Question, as I have already shewn: But instead of that, the Evidence on the other Side own'd the Fact to the High-Priests ; tho' afterwards they thought proper to disown iť again, by saying that the Body was stolen away, while they were a fleep: Yet 'that will amount to no more than this, that the Fact was supposed to be done when they did not know whether it was done or no; which is too weak of itself to be further expofed.
I am fatisfy'd the Argument has drawn me too great a Length, but however I hope you will indulge me, while I fhew,
III. In the third and last Place, What will be the Benefit of Christ's Relurrection to us.
And this is no less than a Confirmation and Establishment of the whole Chrio stian Scheme, which is a wonderful Con