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mankind, that the light of nature is a | that the defenders of the Gospel have perfect rule, and, therefore, that all | appeared with very different degrees revelation is needless and indeed im- / of ability for the work ; nor could it possible. Another disguises the mi-l be otherwise among such numbers of racles of Christ by false representa-l them: but, on the whole, though the tions of them, and then treats them' patrons of infidelity have been masters as idle tales. A third takes a great of wit, humour, and address, as well deal of fruitless pains to shew, that as of a moderate share of learning, and some prophecies referred to in the generally much more than a moderate New Testament are capable of ano. share of assurance ; yet so great is the ther sense, different from that in force of truth, that (unless we may which the apostles have taken them. except those writers who have un
happily called for the aid of the civil These things have been set in a very
magistrate in the controversy) we canartful and fallacious light by persons,
not recollect to have seen any defence whose names will, perhaps, be trans
of the Gospel, which has not, on the mitted to posterity, with the infamous
whole, been sufficient to establish it, stigma of having been leaders in the
notwithstanding all the sophistical arcause of infidelity; but not a man of
guments of its subtle antagonists. them undertakes to ascertain the grand
This is an observation that is confact. Nay, they generally take no
tinnally gaining new strength, as new more notice of the positive evidences
assaults are made upon the gospel : by which it is even demonstrated, than
and we cannot forbear saying, 'that as if they had never heard it proposed;
if it were by a kind of judicial infathough they cavil at incidental pas
tuation, some who have distinguished ges in those books, in which it is
themselves in the wretched cause of most clearly stated. And as for what
infidelity, have been permitted to fall they have urged, though perhaps
into such gross misrepresentations, some who were before weary of Chris
such senseless inconsistencies, such tianity. may have taken occasion to
palpable falsehoods, and, in a word, reject it, and others, for want of
into such various and malignant suconsulting the answers to them, may
perfluity of naughtiness, that to a 'wise have been unwarily ensnared ; yet
and pious mind, they must appear the examination of these points has
like those venomous creatures, which been greatly for the honour and vin
are said to carry an antidote in their dication of the truth, which seems on
own objections, particularly a noble this occasion to have been set in a clear
Lord, who has given up several of the er and stronger light than ever, at
deistical objections, and even acleast in these latter ages.
knowledged the divine original The cause of Christianity has great. of the Gospel : for he asserts, " That ly gained by debate, and the Gospel no religion ever appeared in the comes like fine gold out of the furnace, world, whose natural tendency was which the more it is tried, the more so much directed to promote the it is approved. It must be owned' peace and happiness of mankind.''.
He declares, that, “ No system can i produced from his Lordship’s writ. be more simple and plain than that of ings, the reader may easily judge a natural religion, as it stands in the what religion has to fear from this. Gospel.” He avers, that, “ he will noble writer's arguments, and we not say, that the belief that Jesus was will venture to assert, that he has the Messiah is the only article of be- himself entirely confuted his own lief necessary to make men Christians. objections. There are other things doubtless con- Thus have we given the reader a tained in the revelation he made of brief view of the chief arguments, in himself, dependant on, and relative proof of Christianity; and the sum to, this article, without the belief of of the whole is this : which, I suppose, our charity would The Gospel is probable in theory; be very defective. But this I say, as considering the nature of God, that the system of religion which and the circumstances of mankind, Christ published, and his evangelists there was reason to hope a revelation recorded, is a complete system to all might be given ; and if any were the purposes of religion, natural and given, we should naturally apprerevealed. It contains all the duties hend its internal evidence would be of the former, it enforces the whole such as that of the Gospel is, and its law of faith, by promising rewards external such as it is said to be. But and threatening punishments, which it is also true in fact: for Christianity he declares he will distribute when he was early professed as it was first incomes to judge the world." The same troduced by Jesus of Nazareth, whose writer allowetb, « that the Gospel is, life and doctrines were published by in all cases, one continued lesson of hisimmediateattendants; whose books the strictest morality, of justice, of are still preserved in the original lanbenevolence, and of universal chari- guage, and in the main are faithfully ty." He professeth a great concern translated into our own; so that the for true charity, in opposition to the books of the New Testament now in ology, and says, that " genuine Chris- use may be depended upon as written tianity was taught of God.” And, not by the persons whose names they to multiply passages to this purpose, bear; and admitting this, the truth of he pronounces that “the Chris the Gospel follows, by a train of very tian system of faith and practice easy consequences : for the authors. was revealed of God himself, and certainly knew the truth of the facts it is absurd and impious to they related : and, considering what assert, that the divine Being reveal appears in their characters and cir. ed it incompletely and imperfect cumstances, we can never believe ly. Its simplicity and plainness shew they would have attempted to deceive that it was designed to be the reli- 118; or, if they had, they could not gion of mankind, and also manifests have gained credit in the world. the divinity of its original. After But they did gain it in a very rernarkreading those quotations, and a great able manner : therefore the facts they variety of others, which mighi bel attested were true : and the truth of «he Gospel evidently follows from, row the joyful anthem of the psalmist, the certainty of those facts, and is and say, with the humblest gratitude completely confirmed by what has and self-resignation, God is the Lord happened in the world since the pub who sheweth us light; bind the sacrifice lication of it.
with cords even to the horns of the altar. This is the sum of what we flatter Adore God, who first commanded the ourselves we have sufficiently proved ; | light to shine out of darkness, that by and shall now conclude what we have the discoveries of his word and the to say on this subject, with a few | operations of his spirit, he hath shined words by way of reflection :
in your hearts to give you the knowledge 1. Let us gratefully acknowledge of his glory, as reflected from the face the divine goodness, in favouring us of his Son. Let us all adore him, with so excellent a revelation, and that this revelation hath reached us, confirming it to us by such ample who live in an age and country so evidence.
distant from that in which it first apWe should daily adore the God of peared; while there are to this very nature, for lighting up the sun, that day, not only dark corners, but reglorious, though imperfect, image of gions of the earth, that are full of the his own unapproachable lustre; and habitations of idolatry and cruelty. appointing it to gild the earth with its various rays, to cheer us with its to those whose education and circum benign influences, and to guide and stances of life have given them oppor, direct us in our journies, and our | tunities for a fuller enquiry into the labours. But how incomparably more state of those ancient or modern navaluable is that day spring from on high, tions, that have been left merely to which hath visited us, to give light to the light of unassisted reason ; even to them that sit in darkness, and in the sha, / those who are acquainted with the dow of death, and to guide our feet in history of their gods, the rites of their the way of peace ? Oh ye Christians, priests, the tales and even the hymns whose eyes are so happy to see, and of their poets; nay, we will add, the your ears to hear, what reason have reasoning of the sagest philosophers; you for daily and hourly praise! When all the precious and all ihe erroneous your minds are delighted with con- | things they have said where religion templating the riches of Gospel grace, and immortality are concerned. It when you view with wonder and joy | may be imagined, that God gave to the harmonious system of your re- some of the most celebrated pagan demption, when you feel the burthen writers that uncommon share of genius of your guilt removed, the freedom and eloquence, that they might, as it of your address to the throne of Grace were, by their art, embalm the mon. encouraged, and see the prospect of sters of antiquity ; that so succeeding a fair inheritance to eternal glory ages might see, in a more affecting opening upon you ; then, in the view than we could otherwise have pleasing transports of your souls, bor done, how weak the human mind is
in its best estate, and the need which I to be sure they will scorn our pity. the greatest as well as the meanest of But who can forbear it? Is there a mankind have of being taught by a more melancholy thought than this, revelation from above. While we that the Son of God should have done are daily conversing with such monu- so much to introduce and establish ments as these, and are also survey- the gospel, and his Spirit so much to ing the evidences of Christianity, in perpetuate and increase its eyidence; a larger and more distinct view than and that, after all, it should be it was possible for us here to suppose contemptuously despised, even by them, we are under peculiar obliga- creatures who are perishing without tions to be very thankful for the Gos- i it? This is not only done, though we pel ourselves, as well as to compas- believe most frequently, by men of sionate the case of those to whom it profligate and abandoned lives ; but has never been offered, or by whom sometimes by persons who have the it is slighted. And this leads us to appearance of external morality, deanother reflection :
cency, and humanity, (for such are 2. What reason we have to pity
to be found among them) as well as those who reject this glorious Gospel, men of wit and genius, of politeness even when they have opportunities
and learning, of human prudence and of inquiring into its clearest evidences. experience in worldly affairs. It may
Such undoubtedly we have in our also beadded, that it is the caseof some own age and nation : and surely we i who were the children of pious parents, should sometimes bestow a compas- |
who were trained up in religious essionate thought upon them, and lift ercises, who once discovered. serious up humble prayers for them, that God, impressions, and gave very encouragperadventure may give them repent- ing hopes. Alas, whither are they ance to the acknowledgment of the falling! How shall we shelter those truth, that they may recover them- that were once our brethren, that are selves out of the snares of the devil, perhaps still our friends, from the awwho are now led captive by him at | ful sentence which the Gospel dehis pleasure. We should pity Hea nounces against all that reject it, withthens and Mahometans under their out any.exception? As to the wretches darkness and errors: but how much that add insult and derision to their more deplorable is the case of these,
infidelity, we tremble to think of that who though they dwell in Emanuel's
load of guilt which they are bringing land, and in the valley of Zion, upon themselves; and how near their turn it into the valley of the shadow approach to the unpardonable sin, if of death, by closing their eyes against they have not already committed it. so bright a lustre, and stopping their For the rest, who behave in a more ears against the voice of the charnier !
| modest and sober inanner, it will, no They are, indeed, in their own con. | doubt, be a very difficult task to conceit the only wise people, but their vince them ; and so much the rather, wisdom will die with them : so that some of them, by too easy a tran. sition, have renounced many of the 1 of the Christian doctrine, whether it most important principles of natural be of God. We verily believe, that religion: nay, it might be added, even it is the purity of its precepts which the whole of it, together with the lies at the bottom of most men's opChristian revelation. But the influ- | position to it; or a natural pride of ences of divine grace are Almighty. heart, which gives them an aversion Let us recommend theme to it, and to it; or a fond affection of seeming omit no other proper method, either wiser than others, in rejecting what of recovering such as are already se most of their neighbours do, and duced, or at least of securing those profess to believe. When these unwho are not yet infected, but may be, happy prejudices and conceptions are, as most of the youth are, especially in | by divine grace, conquered and rootthe most populous places, in imminent ed out, the evidence of truth will danger of the contagion. To this end | daily appear with increasing lustre; let us add,
as the light of the sun does to an eye 3. How reasonable it is, that Chris recovering from a film with which it tians should form a familiar acquaint- hath been overgrown; and which beance with the great evidences of our fore bath veiled it with midnight in common faith.
the midst of noon. It is what we so apparently owe to 4. How solicitous should we be to the honour of God, to the interest of embrace and obey that Gospel, Christ, to the peace of our own souls, conies attended with such abundant and the edification of others, that we evidences ! hope we need not to urge it at large, We may undoubtedly address ourespecially considering what has been selves to most of our readers, and said before. In consequence of all, say, 'as Paul did to king Agrippa: let it be your care to make evidences Believe thou the prophets? I know that of Christianity the subject of your thou believest : yet let me intreat and serious reflection and frequent con- charge you not to rest here; but alverse. Especially study your Bibles, tentively to examine how far your where such marks of truth and divinity hearts are affected, and your lives are to be found, that we hope few who regulated, by such a belief. The have familiarly known them, and have Christian revelation is a practical had a relish for them, were ever thing; and is heard, believed, and brought to make a shipwreck of their professed in vain, if it be not obeyfaith as it is in Jesus. . Above all, leted. of it be your care to act on the rules 1 In this Gospel the wrath of God is which are here laid down and then revealed from heaven against all the unyou will find your faith growing in godliness of men : but it is revealed a happy proportion, and experience with redoubled fury against that authe truth of our Saviour's declaration, dacious sinner, who holds the truth in that if any man will resolutely and unrighteousness. In this Gospel the faithfully do his will, he shall know blessed Jesus is exalted both as a
and obey that Gospel, which