Page images
PDF
EPUB

Gentlemen, if you will, of a generous Education, who have a greater Sense of Honour than these poor Men could be fupposed to have, and set Death before you on one sida and the Recantation of an idie Story on the other, and think, if you could think fit to die to carry on the Banter, and would not chuse rather to be laughed at, than to be a Martyr for a foolis, Tale. Now if Men of Honour would do a thing, which would be such a Mortification to them, rather than lose their Lives; what unheard-of Spark of Honour can you suppose to find in the Breasts of those plain Fisher-men, that should make them rather die, than to say any Thing contrary to what they had preached?

Phil. Good Sir, you run on a little too fast in behalf of the Apostles ; for give me leave to tell you, that their Preaching was not so void of Gain, nor so full of Hazard, as you pretend. If they got nothing by their new. Doctrine, they had nothing to lose. And it was an ample Reward to poor Fisher-men, to be look’d on as inspired Men, and to have all their Followers submit them selves to them. * Peter, 'tis true, left his torn Nets, his leak y Boat, and simple Companions; but by being an Apostle, his Words were admired as Oracles, and he fat at the Helm in religious Matters. And to be sure, where-ever the Apostles went, there was good Chear provided for them. Belides, there were Gatherings in the new-planted Churches, 2 Cor, viii. and there is no Doubt to be made, but the Apostles had their Share in these; and St. Paul seems to put in plainly for it, alleging that Passage of the Law, Thou shalt not

muzzle the Mouth of the Ox that treadeth out the Corn. Nay, · there must be considerable Sums of Money at the Apostles

disposing ; for in the Acts of the Apostles it is said, Tha the Believers sold all that they had, and laid the Price e the Apostles Feet. Now all this was Honour and Profit enough for such Men as these: It was no great Riches indeed, but it was a comfortable Maintenance. And how many Men are there, that venture their Necks every Day for as littleBesides, I don't see what great Danger they in

[ocr errors]

his Words and simple Comparis true, lefi mers fubmi

Is were admired to be fure, wh for them. B

vii. amare Gach good cheo be furs and he lasting an

* Judæus apud Limb. p. 133, & 134.

curred,

? curred, by their Preaching. The greatelt Danger was from
to the Fevs, who had Laws against such. Impostures, and
-" therefore they very wisely turned to the Gentiles. And
Ei among them there was little Danger, as they ordered Mat-
I ters; for they only preached Jesus Christ to be the Son of

God, and that there was a Refurrection, and the like, which 1 were Things that might go down well enough with the

Heathen World; but I don't find them any-where in the e New Testament preaching against Idolatry, which if they * had done, the zealous Heathens would have immediately

crucified thein. And 'twas upon this Account, that the A Apostles inveigh so much against the falfe Brethren, who

were those that betray'd them to the Hearbens, that they si run down Idolatry in private. Besides, it does nor ap. e pear, bur that they did avoid Suffering as much as they

could; for when St. Paul was called in question for teach

ing contrary to the Law of Mofes, he with a great Deal s: of Dexterity avoids the Charge, pretending only that for is the Resurrection of the Dead, and for seeing a vision he was

called in question, which, though they were not the Points he was charged with, yet they served to set the Pharisees

and Sadducees a quarrelling, and so freed him from Danger, 3. that Time, by that ingenious Prevarication.

Cred. I will speak in order to the Obje£tions you have Adolles here raised. You say the Apostles had nothing to lose, and ventured therefore they might venture upon the Preaching the Gospel. their lives, What though they had no Riches to venture, they had ang

na and Libera the Reputation of honeft Men, which few People will care

to lose for the lake of an Impofture; for an honest Nan, if - ever so poor, would not care to be counted a Cheat. And

if they had no Reputation, they had their Liberty and Lives to lose, and no one, of any Sense, would care to venture these, upon no better a Prospect than you can suppose the Apostles to have had, for Goals and Gallows. .

But you say, They gat Viktuals by it, and the Honour of And did nos being the Heads of a religiaus Party, and the Difpofuil of the

of breach for People's Alms. ' And, indeed, wondrous Mare: are all or Applause. these, to make Men venture their Necis for them. It does not appear, but that they lived as well upon their

Trade,

Had no

the Coi

Trade, as this comes to. But fupposing they preached only for a Livelihood, yet, was it worth While, for them. to undergo so much Pains and Danger, for a little Victuals? See the great Comforts of the Apostleship, which did, as you say, invite Men to it upon Account of Gain. They endured Tribulation, Distress, Persecution, Famine and Nakedness, Peril and Sword, Rom. viii. 35. They were made a Spectacle to the World, to Angels and Men, and were Fools for Christ's fake; they were Hungry and Thirsty, Nu ked and Buffeted, and had no certain Dwvelling-place. St. Paul was five Times whipped by the Jews, three T ames beaten wah Rods, once stoned, and frequent in Prisons, &c. 2 Cor. L. and got his own Livelihood by his own Hands, though he had a more liberal Education. But suppose, they had got their Victuals gratis, what Proportion do all these Troubles and Torments bear, to such a small Conveniency?

But it is an uncharitable Falsity to say, The Apostles gained any Thing by the Collections which were made. The Contributions, which were first made, were laid down before the Apostles; but what Advantage did they make of them, but only to relieve the Poor? If the Apostles indirectly had reaped any Profit from these, they would have kept them still in their own Hands; but they instituted the Office of Deacons to discharge that Trust, which they would never have done, if they had preached the Gospel for the Sake of the Advantage they made by such Contributions. And the Collections mention'd by S6 Paul, 2 Cor. viii. were only for Relieving the Poor at Hirufalem in a great Famine, which were entirely sent thithe: without the Apostles participating of any part of them. And St. Panl was so far from asking any Share of the that he declares that he was burthensome to none; that h: gor his Living by his own Hands; and that he preach: the Gospel gratis, though, if he pleased, he might i Justice demand a Livelihood for it. They that wait a te

Altar, are Partakers with the Altar ; even fo hath the Los ord.lined, that they which preach the Gospel, should lives the Gospel. But I have used none of these things. Neither

ht

lections.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

have I written these Things that it should be so done unto me : . For it were better for me to die, than that any Man should make my Glorying void. And so again, What is my Reward then? Verily that when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without Charge, that I abuse not my Power in

the Gospel, i Cor. ix. 14. And again, When I was pre-. fent with yoms and wanted, I was chargeable to no Man, - 2 Cor. xi. 9. And Acts vii. 14. Te your felves know, that - these Hands have ministred unto my Necessities. .

Neither is it true what you say, that they were in no Persecuted i Danger by Preaching to the Gentiles. The Reason, why by Gerftiles,

as well as so many of the Apostles left the Jews to preach to the he Gentiles, was not to avoid Persecution, but not to lose their Time and Preaching among the stubborn and hard

ned Fews, who undervalued their Doctrine, and trampled - upon the holy Things. Nay, the Apostles were so far

from being willing, upon this Account, to go to preach among the Gentiles, that they were brought with great

Reluctancy to leave the perfecuting Jews, to preach to -: the Heathens. And as for Perfecution, they had as large

Share of it in the Heathen Countries, as in Judaa it self.

The Epistles which the Apostles wrote to comfort the i Gentile Believers under their Persecutions, and to exhort

them courageously to undergo their Sufferings, do clearly
demonstrate, that they were persecuted, as well by those
of their own Country, as by the Jerus. For St. Paul
writes to the Thessalonians, Ye have also suffered like Things
of your own Countrymen, as they have of the Jews, who killed
the Lord Jesus, í Theff. ii. 14. And, in the other E-
pistles to the Gentile Converts, there are many Exhortati-
ons to Constancy in their Tribulations, which they un-
derwent from the Heathens in those Places, where the Fews
could not hurt them.

But I see no Reason in the World, why you should Preached
say, That the Apostles did not preach against the Heathen against the
Idolatry; for their bare Teaching the Principles of the a
Christian Religion, is a manifest Confutation of the Wor-
ship of Idols. This was the first Step, which was made,

towards

y, That th for their b manifeft ift Steps

in

[ocr errors]

. Heathen

[ocr errors]

towards Christianity, as the Apostle says, i Theff. i. 3. That you bring turned from Idols, might ferve the living God. Poul and Barbabas at Lystra, tell the People, That they preach unto ther, that they fould turn from Vanities, or Idols, unto the living God, Acts xiv. 15. St. Paul at Athens shews them the Vanity of Idol-worship, from a Saying of the Poet Aratus. And 'twas his Preaching against this, that made Demetrius the Silversmith, and the superstitious Multitude at Ephefis, in such a Rage with · him, Atts xix. To which, if you add all the many Exhortations against Idolatry, in every Page of the Apoftolick Epistles, a Man can hardly be thought to have look'd into the New Testament, who does deny this

Truth. False Bre. And 'tis a great Sign you are not fufficiently conveto

not fant in your Bible, that you take the false Brethrrent Informers.

sometimes spoken of, for Informers against the Christiais, upon Account of their condemning Idolatry. For the false Brethren were those, who would persuade the Gentiles to take upon them the troublesome Ceremonies of the Mofaical Law; and those, who would pretend to be Fows to avoid Perfecution, which lay only upon the Christians ; and this you will be sufficiently satisfied of, if you read the ad and 4th Chapters of the Epistle to

the Galatians. what St. As for the Evasion and Prevarication, which you tax Paul said to St. Paul with; the Charge is very unjuft. For St. Pas! ihe Pharifees no Pre- did nothing blame-worthy in this. If he had denied himvarication, self to be a Christian, it had been something. But he

only said he was judged for the Resurrection of the Dead, which was the most principal Doctrine of the Christian Religion. And indeed I do not fee, what more proper Argument he could use, to convince the Pharisees of their Fault in persecuring the Christians, chań to Thew, That they themselves did hold one of the prime Doctrines of their Faith. You cannot think, that St. Paul by this fhould make himself no Christian; he was too well known among them, for his deserting their Interest, to make

this

« PreviousContinue »