Thomas Sherlock (1678-1761) was an Anglican Bishop whose apologetic writings, in the tradition of John Locke’s Reasonableness of Christianity [A], focus on the evidence for miracles and the use and intent of prophecy. The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection is a charming response to the deist Thomas Woolston, who had attacked the Christian miracles in six pamphlets published in 1727-8. The question at issue is whether the original witnesses of the resurrection were deceivers, and Sherlock frames work as a discussion among some lawyers who find themselves on opposite sides of the question. They decide to have it determined by a mock trial complete with a jury in which the skeptical arguments of Woolston, Anthony Collins, and Matthew Tindal are vigorously advanced by the counsel for the prosecution and rebutted by the counsel for the defense.The Trial was wildly popular and went through nearly a dozen printings in its first year. The edition linked to the title above also contains Sherlock’s Sequel to the Trial of the Witnesses, a valuable work in its own right, written in response to an attack on the Trial by Peter Annet. The mode of argument adopted in the Trial has been an influence on many subsequent apologetic writers, and it has been conjectured that Hume had the Trial in view when he published his famous attack on the rationality of belief in miracles in 1748.

The 14th edition (1765) is available here. An html version of this work is available here.