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have a ground in fact. The defenders of Revelation have vindicated these several arguments; and the obvious state of the case, after it has been examined, compels us, on the lowest assumption, to allow a considerable weight to each. But I speak now of the arguments in their kind, as distinguished from their degree. I wish to insist upon their great simplicity and reasonableness; which are such, that if any person of a candid mind were to lay down beforehand what would be the most prevailing inducements to his belief of a Revelation, he could not, I think, easily mention any other in kind than such as we find we possess. The actual various attestations of Christianity, external and internal ; its august apparatus of prophecies and miracles ; the excellence of its constitution, in its laws, doctrines, and sanctions; its power in subduing the laboured opposition of the world; with the glory of its Founder, illuminating his Religion by the signs of a divine presence in his own person ; these furnish to us whatever our most deliberate judgment could have suggested, had it been permitted to us to choose the grounds of our belief. It now appeals to that judgment, with an integrity of claim which we shall seek in vain to resist, without invalidating the most certain principles of all our knowledge.

This coincidence of the religion, in its evidences, with the natural frame of our reason and principles of judgment, is worthy of notice, as contrasted with

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the nature of some of its doctrines, which do not so coincide. Some of its doctrines there are which we could not have anticipated, before they were revealed; and now that they are revealed, we cannot say they are such as come within the command and grasp of our faculties. They are of the nature of discoveries, and they are made from a system of things, of which an infinite Being is the author ; and our concern in it is, we know not how great ; but it must be all which He may choose to appoint; and an implicit belief may be the only possible, or the most expedient, way of access to a part of the present knowledge which our interest in it requires : whereas hereafter our minds may be adapted to another comprehension of the truths so proposed.

But in the mean time the Revelation itself is authenticated to us by modes of reason in which we have a direct satisfaction. The evidence of it meets precisely the faculty of judging which we already have. It rests on media of belief to which no valid or intelligible exception can be made, as unfit in their kind, or inadequate in their principle, to the ends of a rational conviction. And the difference here adverted to, between the proof of Revelation and the doctrines of it, that the one is perfectly level to our reason, and the other, in some particulars, is above it, is no more than agrees with the following reflexion : That a proof would not be such to a mind which could not distinctly apprehend and judge

of it; and, therefore, to bring men to the first knowledge of a revelation, they must be addressed on the footing and principles of their nature : but as disciples and converts to live by the religion, it is in course, and altogether in reason, that they accept the revelation itself as an authority for all it contains. They must learn first, by their present power of judgment, to see the religion to be from God; but under the conviction so admitted, the prerogative of faith will follow.

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The extent and comprehensiveness of the whole proof of Christianity being thus concisely stated ; and also the simplicity and reasonableness of it; I would next observe, that in treating of branch of the Gospel evidences, the result of such separate argument must always be taken with a reference to the other proof in reserve; and if the attention is engaged to a limited view of the subject for a time, the greater compass of it must not be forgotten, when we come in the end to apply the inference of our divided inquiry. Otherwise our notions, as to the real force of the evidence, must be erroneous, or incomplete; erroneous, if, upon a part of the proof, we conclude against the whole ; incomplete, if we conclude without it. For though some kind of proof be incapable of accession by an extended cumulative reason, the proof of religion is not of that nature, but one which gathers light and strength by the concentrated force of all its moral evidence. The whole of it, therefore, must be laid together, and the aggregate of the concurrent proofs will close the investigation.

In making this point a matter of distinct remark, and laying some stress upon it; viz., that the vindication of our Faith rests upon an accumulated and concurrent evidence; I am far from supposing that any person literally assumes the fact to be otherwise; or that in canvassing any separate portion of the proofs and reasons of it, he ever states to himself, in the way of a positive proposition, that the inference he derives from that portion of them is all that can be advanced in behalf of the religion. But yet something of this kind of misapprehension does seem frequently to make its way into the examination of this great question, as a feeling at least, and an implied reason at the bottom, for expecting a more complete satisfaction than the single topic in hand may be capable of affording. The mistaken feeling, where it is perfectly sincere, is not hard to be accounted for. For the separation of the essential branches of a combined subject is too apt to limit our conception of the whole nature of it, for the moment, to the train of thought which is present before us; especially where a great interest hangs in the scale, and either our wishes or our fears intervene to agitate the judgment. The separation made seems to have the effect of staking the fortune and issue of the whole cause upon the selected ground of argument, narrowing the subject down to the reduced compass within which we are busied in viewing it, and transferring the imperfection of our details of thought to the substance of more enlarged truth.

And it may be, that it is to some such mistake of mind as I have here been describing, rather than to a plain want of candour and integrity, in treating the evidences of religion, that we ought to ascribe some of the most unwarranted and inconsequent insinuations against it, drawn by sceptical writers from the inconclusiveness or defect, as it appears to them, of single and detached arguments for it.

Take the argument from Prophecy, for instance. Let it be granted that there are parts of prophecy, of which we cannot determine how they ought to be applied ; that there are others partially obscure, as not offering any very obvious or explicit illustration of the characters and things to which we apply them; or that sometimes, where the sense of the prophecy is clear, yet the proof of a divine prescience in it is only precarious. When we have supposed these, or similar defects, attaching to some or many of the various contents of the prophetic writings, what shall we conclude

it : Does it follow that prophecy is not a valid and substantial argument? Shall its obscurity, in whatever degree it may exist in some instances, refute the force of others which want nothing in point of perspicuity or exact application? Or, because we do not perfectly see how all the evidence of pro


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