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THE SECOND EDITION;
AND WITH THE ADDITION OF
A TABLE OF CONTENTS.
“ I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.”
PSALM cxix. 30. 163.
PRINTED BY D. WALKER,
AND JOHN WASHBOURN, GLOUCESTER.
IN both the general spirit and particular
precepts of the religion of Jesus Christ, there is something so amiable, so obviously conducing to the diminution of misery, and the diffusion of comfort and happiness amongst mankind, that, it may reasonably be presumed, no man duly acquainted with that beautiful, that perfect system of morality, can be so unfeeling for the concerns of his fellow-creatures, , and so little a real friend to himself, as not to wish the truth of the Gospel Revelation could be so satisfactorily demonstrated, as to convince the minds of men of all degrees and stations, and induce them, not merely to profess to receive it, for that alone can answer no desirable purpose, but conscientiousły to make it the rule of their lives and conduct at all times, and on all occasions, both in public and in private. To accomplish this, it is, in the first place, absolutely necessary, that its celestial origin and authenticity, should be fully and clearly ascertained, and no just
cause left for doubt and uncertainty about it; for the least room for doubting in such a case, throws so considerable a weight into the scale of immediate self-interest, and our natural
appetites and infirmities, as renders it next to impossible that its precepts should have any valuable efficacy upon him who doubts; notwithstanding all the prudential suggestions of modern preachers, that he who walketh religiously, walketh surely; and that the truest wis-. dom is to act upon the supposition of the truth of the Christian Revelation. Men sometimes act upon uncertain, dubious prospects, in the trifling concerns of the present life; but the views of futurity, opened to us by revelation, are too vast, too important for the calculation of chances, or the principles of commercial speculation: if they are not indisputably certain, they are nothing.
The Apostles and primitive Christians acted under a full conviction of the infallible certainty of the doctrines which they believed and taught. And if satisfactory proofs of the truth and divine authority of the Gospel, and a complete knowledge and understanding of its intent and doctrines, be really attainable to the ordinary faculties of the human mind, and easy to be comprehended by children and
the most illiterate of the people, it is then like what it was represented to be when it was first preached to the unlearned and the poor; worthy of the impartial benevolence of the common father of the human race; and fit to be an universal rule of life, and source of religious information, to every rational individual of all the nations of the earth. If, on the contrary, its own trutń, and the authenticity of the scriptures which teach it, rest solely upon the plurality of the voices of corrupt and erring men, of no authority from heaven, and supported only by the power of earthly magistrates; if its most important, because its fundamental, doctrines are to be interpreted only by the critical sagacity of the learned, respecting the meaning of a few controverted words or sentences of Greek or Hebrew, it is then involved in endless doubt and uncertainty; is totally unlike the Gospel preached originally by Jesus and his Apostles; absolutely useless, because unintelligible, to the great bulk of mankind; and, in every way, unbecoming that eternal fountain of wisdom and intelligence from which it is said to be derived.
Under this dilemma, thinking the certainty of either the truth or falsehood of a revelation