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EVIDENCES OF REVEALED
JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, LL.D. F.R.S. &c.
Quelle étonnante révolution viens-je de contempler! Quels hommes l'ont opérée ! Quels obstacles ont-ils eu à surmonter !
REPRINTED FOR THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN UNITARIAN
ASSOCIATION, 3, WALBROOK BUILDINGS, WALBROOK ; SOLD ALSO BY R. HUNTER, 72, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
WHEN any controversy becomes very extensive, and of course complicated, branching itself out into many parts, the connexion of which with each other is not easily perceived, it is of great use to have a general outline of the whole; shewing the mutual relation of the parts, and their respective importance. This I have here endeavoured to do with regard to the evidences of divine revelation. This, in some measure, resembles the map of the seat of war, by looking on which an intelligent statesman will perceive the real value of any progress that may be made by the armies on each side, and thereby wil neither be unreasonably elated with any trifling advantages, nor depressed by inconsiderable losses, but only when he perceives that the enemy is advancing to the heart of his country.
This appears to be now more necessary with respect to the evidences of revelation than to any other controversy. The articles comprehended in them are very numerous, and are becoming daily more so; the objections of Unbelievers being of very different kinds, and many of them exceedingly overrated in the eyes of the objectors. Also many Christians, having been accustomed to lay undue stress on certain articles of their faith, are apt to be alarmed lest the whole should be overturned, when perhaps the advantage that has been gained by the adversary is of real service to their cause, the article that was untenable having been a real incumbrance on the system, and no way connected with it. They are, therefore, under obligation to Unbelievers for objecting to them.
I hope, therefore, that the following outline of the arguments in favour of divine revelation, in which the proper place and the relative importance of each is distinctly stated, will be of
The believer will hereby see what is the real amount of any objection that he meets with, and what will be the consequence of admitting the force of it, or how far it really affects the proper evidence of his religion. Also, by taking in the whole compass of the argument, it will be more in his power to bring Unbelievers from any trifling cavil, on which they are very
apt to dwell, to the real merits of the question; and if they can give him no satisfaction with respect to these, every thing else he will see to be of little consequence, and hardly worth replying to; though every difficulty is worth discussing among the friends of revelation, as is every difficulty in the system of nature, by those who believe its divine origin.
The difficulties that the believer may safely neglect in a controversy with Unbelievers are, inconsistencies in the account of the mere circumstances of historical facts; the authenticity of particular books or parts of books, when enow still remain as evidences of the leading facts ; mistakes of the writers in point of reasoning, and every thing besides the evidence of the principal facts, which are the miracles that are said to have been wrought at the promulgation of the Jewish and Christian religions.
I sincerely wish that intelligent and candid Unbelievers (for I doubt not there are such) would give a similar concise and comprehensive view of their objections to revelation. It would contribute to bring the controversy to a fair issue, which is certainly a thing to be wished for by every lover of truth; and no question that was ever proposed for discussion can be of more real importance than this.
This tract contains only the heads of the argu