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“ go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing " the things which fhall befal me there, fave that “ the Holy Ghost witnefseth in every city, saying, “ that bonds and afflictions abide me; and now be“ hold, I know that ye all among whom I have gone “ preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face “ no more.”—Now, I appeal to every candid mind, whether the tenor of this narration, and of these sentiments, is not very different from what we should naturally expect either from deceivers or fanatics? Would men who fabricated a history to gain the reputation of a prophetic character for themselves or others, ascribe the most striking and important predictions, not to themselves, or to those whose characters they wished to exalt, but to some other obscure individual, who is represented as expressly revealing what they before had been ignorant of ?Such confessions as these never proceed from impoftors.—On the other hand, would wild enthusiasts, wrapt in the vain dreams of a perpetually fuperintending inspiration, have thus strictly limited their pretensions to prophetic light, to a few events of their lives, out of a great multitude, confessing themselves in others totally dark and ignorant ?would they have been able to say to the overpowering torrent of fanatic delusion-fo far fhall you go, but no further? Afsuredly not.—Let me add, that when the apostles deliver predictions of remote events affecting the interests of the church in diftant ages, while they confess themselves, ignorant of many,
which were immediately interesting to themselves ; this seems exactly conformable to what we should expect from the inspiration of that wisdom which descended from above, not to gratify their private curiosity, or to promote their personal advantage, but to exhibit them as the lights of the world, in whom the spirit of prophecy should bear testimony to Jesus -a testimony, whose clearness should increase with the progress of time, and whose full splendor should be reserved, to illuminate the remotest periods of futurity.
The mode in which the apostles proposed the evidence of
Christianity was free from enthusiasm.
IF from the nature of the evidence offered by the apostles, we turn our attention to the mode in which it was proposed, we shall be still more clearly convinced of the truth and soberness with which their instructions were enforced. It has indeed been sometimes halledged, in order to shew that the acceptance of Christianity was not founded on rational conviction, that its first teachers did not give their
bVid. Christianity not founded on argument, p. 39, with Doddridge's reply, letter ii. p. 10. and Dr. Randolph's Christian faith a rațional assent, p. 180 to 195.
hearers sufficient time to examine the proofs which
i Aas xi. 26.
* Ib. xiv. 28.
Ib. xviii. 4 and 11. , teaching
teaching the word of God, and “ reasoned publicly in the synagogue every fabbath, persuading the Jews and Greeks.”
To the inhabitants of Ephesus he appeals, " that he had not ceased to warn them night and day “ for the space of three years."2" At " Rome “ Paul dwelt two years in his own hired house, and "received all that came unto him, preaching the “ kingdom of God, and teaching those things which “ concern the Lord Jesus Christ.”-Besides this, the apostles ofrequently in their circuits returned again to the same places, and when they could not conveniently go themselves, they sent other teachers to plant the gospel, or establish it where planted; and in every city where they came, they ordained elders capable of building on the foundation they had laid, and teaching all who desired to receive instruction. And as both our Lord and his apostles afforded sufcient time for enquiry, they also adduced the evidence, which they supplied for the truth of Christianity, in that 'manner which was most natural and fimple,
2 Acts xx. 31.
. Ib. xxviii. the end. Vid. Acts xiv. 21 to 25. Ib. xv. 41. P For these observations on the manner in which our Saviour and his apostles proposed the evidences of Christianity, and its propriety, I am indebted to Dr. Alexander Gerard, professor of divinity in the college of Aberdeen, who in his volume of dissertations on subjects relating to the genius and evidence of Christianity, published in London and Edinburgh, 1766, has a copious and elaborate dissertation on this subject.
and best calculated to prove its truth and reality; they proposed the evidence of their mission in two very different situations, to those who had not yet expressed any prejudice against the gospel, or against the proofs of its divinity, and also to those who were actuated by strong prejudices, engaged in active opposition, and who raised the most forcible objections they could discover: in these opposite situations they proposed the evidences of the gospel, in different manners, each of which was exactly proper in the circumstances under which it was employed, and each proves the truth and soberness which attended the promulgation of Christianity.' :
In addressing those who did not raise objections ' against the evidenees, it was their uniform method to :
satisfy themselves with barely exhibiting these evidences ; they laboured not to prove by argumentation, that they were sufficient ; they were not at pains either to prevent or remove every objection which might be started ; they explained not minutely the particular manner in which each evidence supported their miffion.
Thus our Saviour delivered the most pure and ex. cellent doctrines; but, except when driven to it by opposition, he did not urge their excellence as a proof of their divinity, he left his hearers to feel the excel. lence of his religion, and conclude for themselves, that it was of divine original ; it was not by means of