« הקודםהמשך »
most unaccountably, and from thefe madmen, Christianity is defcended down to the prefent time. It may be further observed, zbat
, upon the fuppofition *before us, it will follow, that, in whatever dilantage from these pretended facts, ibis hitory was palm'd upon the world, all inen at once must be perfuaded to, beliefe for truth, what they knew.to
be falle. These histories declare, that they were wriken by the apostles, and in mediate disciples of our Lord, that the authors of thefe histories did propagate the gospel throqgh the world, did 'fend these writings to the churches, to be kept in their Hands, as the rule of their lives, and the directory of their conduar; and that in fact, multitudes of the several na. tions were profelyted unto, and baptized into the faith of Christianity. Now, was it; poflible; at any time whatfoever, after those pretended facts, that these nations could be ignorant, whether these books and this religion were handed down to them by their progenitors ? Caull Rot cuery one of the nations, who are in these books said to be converted to Christianity, at ance ,conclude that they had never heard any thing of this nature-bsfore; and therefore, that these histories were all falle and spurjous; and consequențy not worthy of the least notice? Is it pollible, ihat the world:fiould agree to venture both time and eteruity upon such a known faldhood? Could all the world at once begulled by such claring anil open forgory and deceit? In a word, these books were many of then, directed to large societies of men, in different parts of the world, were early tranflated into divers : languages, in which they are still extans, "have been fublickly kept and publicklyread in the churches, have been appealed to by all.parties and fects; and never called in question as a forgery, either by the friends or enemies of the Christian cause. All these things put together, we have as much certainty, that these histories are not, cannot be forgery.or impofture, as we can have of any thing whatfaever, not immediately open to our senses.
Now, Sir, let us sum up this evidence; and fee what the conclulion must be.,
All mankind mult own, that if the history of these
facts be true ; if the Lord Jefus Christ did perform ļo many astonishing miracles for fo long a time together, in justification of his divine mission; if he did himself rise from the dead, commission his apoftles to their work, endow them with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghoft, and empower them, by the imposition of their hands, to communicate the fame miraculous gifts to others, here was certainly the greatest interposition of heaven in favour of the Christian institution, that can possibly be imagined or conceived. The power and veracity of God himself were at stake in this cafe : for they were both appealed to, in confirmation of the truth; and both in the moft amazing manner displayed, in answer to that appeal. All doubting in this case is therefore a calling in question the truth and faithfulness of God himself, as well as his power.com
If this history be not true, then all the known laws of nature were changed: All the motives andiincentives to human actions, that ever had obtained in the world, have been entirely inverted: the wickedest men in the world have taken the greatest pains, and endured the great*eft hardships and misery, to invent, practice, and propåa gate the most holy religion that ever was: and not only the apostles and first preaches of the Gospely but whole nations of men, and all forts of men, Christian, Jew, and Pagan, where (no body can imagine how or why) confederated to propagate a known cheat, against their own honour, interest and safety: and multitudes of men, without any prospect of advantage here or:hereaster, were brought most constantly and tenacioudy to profess what they knew to be false, to exchange all the comforts and pleasures of life for flame and contempt, for banilliments, scourgings, imprisonments, and death ; in a word, voluntary to expose themfelves to be hated both of God and man, and that without any known motive whatlo. ever. This must be allowed, or elle du Imuft allow,
that no man ever was, breever can be certain of any thing; as is more particularly considerédrabove.:
There now remains one of these three things a necef fary conclusion from what has been said ; either, (1.) That thefe consequences may be justified; or, (2.) T'hat.
they are not regularly deduced from the premifes.; 0i, (3.) That the Christian Seligion -16 true, and of divine authority. I am perfuaded, you'll not affume either of the two former of these couelulions : the latter therefore forces itself upon you.
That the Lord may direct you in the way of truth. and path of life, is the prayer of, .
LITTER V: Wherein fome of the INTERNAL
EVIDENCES of CHRISTIANITY are considered
Coording to the direction given in your last, I fhall
ufe the greatest freedom in my anfwer, and laye ing afide all referves, fhall prefume on your candour.
You cannot fee (you tell me) how shefe arguments. ! of mine for the truth of Christianity, can:admit of sa • rational and conGftent anfwer." How then can you. -be, but almost persuaded to be a Chriftian? How can you want : fome general and eafy directions, thow to * get rid of those doubts, which filli hang upon your « mind, from the various difficulties which are non
tinually cafting themselves in your way? Do you deal shus with your felf in other cafes, of infinitely lefs importance? Do you harrafs your mind with doubts about other things which are clearly evident
to you, only because you meet with some difficulties which you can not readily folvet. This were the way to down-right feepticism, in every thing which falls under your confideration, whetber natural or moral And at this rate, you may callisto quellion your own being and all your rational powers, as well as every thing you fee, hear, or feel! For ki dare far, there are stifficulties enough in any or all of theft, to puzzle the most fagacions philofopherzthat ever breathed; and to nonplus the inquiries: of all the men in the worldeurot
The question before you is, whether the facts apon mtlich the evidence of Christianity depends, are clearly
proved, and neceffarily true ? If so, there certainly must be some way to folve all thofe difficukies, whether you have found out the method to do it or not. You should likewise conlider, that it is of no-importance to the safety of your foul, whether you are, orare not, capable to obTiate all the objections which fall in your way; but it is of etemal importance, that you build on a fure founda. tion; and that you believe in the only begotten Son of God, This then thould be your method in the cafe before
you. First, fee to your foundation ; examine thoroughly,seri. "oully and impartially, whether the evidence for the truth of Chriftianity be fuch, that you have reason to believe st; and that-it would be unreasonable, 'tiot to believe it true. And then whatever difficulties may occur, do not dig up your foundation; and undermine your faith and hope. Do not give your adverfary the advantage to keep you in a continued fufpence, leit you live and die
an unbeliever ; and fo have your objections removed when it is too late, when your conviêion will but prove your confufion. I do not fpeak this to deter you from examining the most fubtile objections which the greatest enemies of Christianity are able to throw in your way. The cause will bear the strictest fcrutiny, the fevereit -trial. And you can hardly imagine any difficulty, but
what has been clearly and judiciously resolved, by one zor orber of the late defenders of this glorious caufe. But care you convinced, that the arguments to prove the ""truth of Chriftianity, admit of no rational anfwer?' Take then the apostle's advice, in all the further inquiLfies you fall make, to hold faft the beginning of your iconfidence,fedfaft unto the end.
This then is part of that general advice I would give you, that you may get rid of 'those doubts which itill hang upon your mind. Follow it, and it wilt at deal leffen your difficulties, and may make your way plain before you. But this is not the principal direction,
recessary to be taken in this safe. It is of Special confequence, to see tout, that you experience the power of Chriflianity in your own heart. Rejeet this advice; and it is impoffible, that you fhould be rooted and built up in Chrift, and established in the faith. But compty
from whence it was taken. are become new
with it, and it is impossible, that hell and earth can fi. nally subvert your faith, and separate between Christ and your soul. By this means, this great affair will be no longer with you a matter of mere speculation, or empty opinion, but convincing experience ; and nothing but your imperfe&ions and temptations, can ever make you hesitate about the truth of those things, which you fenfibly and continually feel the influence of, upon all the powers and faculties of your mind. By this you will have the witness in yourself, a transcript of the Gospel upon your heart, such a transcript, as will answer to the original, like as the impress upon the wax, to the signet ; or as a well-drawn picture to the lineaments of the face,
By this have multitudes of souls been established in the faith, who have never been able critically to examine the external evidence upon which Christianity is founded. They have not been able to dispute for Christ; but they have dared to die for him. They have found the image of God imprint. ed on their souls, by the Gospel of God our Saviour : and therefore could not doubt the power of that cause, which had produced so glorious an effect upon them. Make the experiment, Sir; and you'll be forced to ac, knowledge the Lord Jesus Christ to be indeed your Saviour, when you feel that he hath actually saved you.
Let me therefore set before you some of the marks given of a real Christian in the New Testament, that when you come to discover the lineaments of this divine image upon your soul, you may know the cause from the effect. In doing this, I shall not descend into alt the minute particulars of the Christian's character ; but only set before you a few of the most plain and intelli. gible marks, by which a Christian indeed may be dif. tinguished from all others; and by which he may most clearly discern, that Christ is a Saviour indeed.
And first, the most general mark, by which this may be known; is, that if any man be in Chrift, he is a new creature) old things are passed away i behold, all things
2. Cor. v. 17. That he is renewed in 'the spirit of mind; and that he puts on the new man, which after God is created in rightcousness and true hor