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SECT. IX. And also from the care, that it was fit God should take, that false writings should not be forged.

TO what has been said may be added, that, if it be granted that God takes care of human affairs, and especially those that concern his own honour and worship, it is impossible he should suffer such a multitude of men, who had no other design than to worship him with sincerity, to be deceived by false books. And, after there did arise several sects in Christianity, there was scarce any found, who did not receive either all or most of these books, except a few which do not contain any thing particular in them; which is a very good argument why we should think that nothing in these books could be contradicted; because those sects were so inflamed with hatred against each other, that whatsoever pleased one, for that very reason displeased another.

SECT. X. A solution of that objection, that many books were rejected by some.

THERE were, indeed, amongst those who were willing to he called Christians, a very few who rejected all those 134books which seem to contradict their particular opinion; such as they who, out of hatred to the Jews, spoke ill of the God of the Jews, of the Maker of the world, and of the law;412412   See Irenæus, book i. chap. 29. Tertullian against Marcion, and Epiphanius concerning the same. or, on the contrary, out of fear of the hardships that the Christians were to undergo, sheltered themselves under the name of Jews,413413   See Gal. ii. 11. vi. 13. 14. Philip. iii. 18. Irenæus, book i. chap. 26. Epiphanius concerning the Ebionites. that they might profess their religion without punishment.414414   Acts ix. 20. xiii. and many times in that book. Philo against Flaccus; and concerning the embassy. Josephus every where. To which may be added L. Generaliter, D. de Decurionibus, and lib. i. C. de Judæis. Tertullian, in his apology, says, “But the Jews read their law openly; they generally purchase leave by a tribute, which they gather upon all sabbath-days.” But these very men were disowned by all other Christians,415415   Tertullian, in his first against Marcion, says, “You cannot find any church of apostolical order, who are not Christians out of regard to the Creator.” every where, in those times when all pious persons, that differed from one another, were very patiently born with, according to the command of the apostles.416416   See what will be said of this matter at the end of the sixth book. Add also Irenæus’s epistle to Victor, and what Jerom writes concerning it in his catalogue; and Cyprian in his African council, “Judging no man, nor removing any one from the right of communion, for his differing in opinion.” The first sort of these corrupters of Christianity are, I think, sufficiently confuted above, where we have shown that there is but one true God, whose workmanship the world is: and indeed it is sufficiently evident from those very books which they, that they might in some measure appear to be Christians, receive; such as the gospel of St. Luke in particular:417417   Tertullian, in his sixth book against Marcion, makes it appear very plainly. it is, I say, evident that Christ preached the same God which Moses and the Hebrews worshipped. We shall have a better opportunity to confute 135the other sort, when we come to oppose those who are hews, and willing to be called so. In the mean time I shall add only this; that the impudence of those men is very surprising who undervalue the authority of Paul, when there was not any one of the apostles who founded more churches, nor of whom there were so many miracles related, at that time when, as was before observed, the facts might be easily inquired into. And, if we believe his miracles, what reason is there why we should. not believe him in his heavenly visions, and in his receiving his instructions from Christ? If he was so beloved of Christ, it cannot possibly be that he should teach any thing disagreeable to Christ, that is, any thing false; and that one thing which they find fault with in him, namely, his opinion concerning the freedom procured to the Hebrews, from the rites formerly enjoined by Moses, there could be no reason for his teaching it but the truth; for he was circumcised himself,418418   Philip. iii. 5. and observed most of the law of his own accord:419419   Acts xvi. 3. xx. 6. xxi. and the following chapter. and, for the sake of the Christian religion, he performed things much more difficult, and underwent things much harder than the law commanded, or than he had reason to expect. upon the account of it;420420   2 Cor. xi. 23. and the following verses; and every where is the Acts. See also 1 Cor. ii. 3. 2 Cor. xi. 30. xii. 10. and he was the cause of his disciples doing and bearing the same things:421421   Acts xx. 29. Rom. v. 3. viii. 12. 2 Cor. i. 4, 8. ii. 4. vi. 4. 1 Thess. i. 6. 2 Thess. i. 6. whence it is evident, he did not deliver any thing to please the ears of his hearers. or for their profit; when he taught them, instead of the Jewish sabbath, to spend every day in divine worship;422422   Acts ii. 46. v. 42. 1 Tim. v. 5. 2 Tim. i. 3. instead of the small expence the law put them to, to bear the loss of all their goods;423423   2 Cor. vi. 4. xii. 10. and instead of offering beasts to God, to offer their own blood to him.424424   Rom. viii. 36. 2 Cor. iv. 11. Philip. i. 20. And Paul himself openly assures us, that Peter, John, and James, gave him 136their right hands, in token of their friendship with him; 425425   Gal. ii. 9. And 1 Cor. iv. 11. 2 Cor. xi. 5. xii. 11. which, if it had not been true, he would not have ventured to say so, when they were alive, and could have convicted him of an untruth. Except only these, therefore, which I have now mentioned, who scarce deserve the name of Christians, the manifest consent of all other assemblies, in receiving these books, beside what has been already said concerning the miracles which were done by the writers of them, and the particular care of God about things of this nature, is sufficient to induce all impartial men to give credit to these relations; because they are ready to believe many other historical books which have not any testimonies of this kind; unless very good reason can be given to the contrary; which cannot be done here:—

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