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faith. The latter, we flatter ourselves, | pel, as well as for the edification of we have sufficiently done in the fol- | those who embrace it, should we lowing lives of the blessed Jesus and wholly overlook those arguments, or his apostles and followers : and we neglect to acquaint ourselves with propose in this Dissertation to prove them. This is the evidence we prothat the Christian religion is true, pose, and beg our readers would and owes its origin to God himself. peruse it with becoming attention.
In prosecution of this great design, It will be needless to observe, that
we shall endeavour more particularly this is a matter of the bighest import
to shew, that if we take the matter ance, as every one will apprehend
on a general survey, it will appear that this is the foundation of all our
highly probable that such a system hopes. It is absolutely necessary, in this age of libertinism, that every
of doctrines and precepts, as we find
Christianity to be, should, indeed, Christian should be able to give a rea
have been a divine Revelation; and son for the hope that is in him, and to
then that if we examine into the exterput to silence the tongues of those
nal evidence of it, we shall find it men who have evil will at Sion. And
certain in fact, that it was so, and that may the Almighty enable us to plead
it had its origin from on high. his cause with success ; May the divine Spirit accompany these argu First, then, we are to shew, that, ments, that the faith of our readers | taking the matter merely in theory, it being more and more established, it will appear highly proba may appear that the tree is watered at such a system as the Gospel, should the roots, by all the other graces be, indeed, a divine revelation. growing and flourishing in an equal proportion !
To prove this, we shall endeavour
to shew, That the state of mankind : God has made ample provision for | was such, as greatly to need a revelathe honour and support of his Gospel, tion ; That there seems from the light by furnishing it with a variety of of nature, encouragement to hope, proofs, which may, with undimi- that God would grant one : That it nished, and, indeed, with growing is reasonable to believe, that if any conviction, be displayed in the eyes were made, it would be introduced of the whole world : and we should / and transmitted, as Christianity was ; be greatly wanting in gratitude to him, and that its general nature and subin zeal for a Redeemer's kingdom, stance should be such as we find that and in charitable concern for the con- ! of the Gospel is. If we satisfactorily version of those who reject the Gos- | prove these particulars, there will be a strong presumptive evidence that the 1 ly bewildered in their religious noGospel is from God, and a fair way will tions and practices, very different be opened for that more divine proof, | from each other, and almost equally which is principally intended. differing on all sides from the appear
ances of truth and reason? Is any 1. The case of mankind is naturally thing so wild as not to have been such as to need a divine revelation. believed : any thing so infamous as We would not be understood to
not to have been practised by them, speak bere of man in his original state,
while they not only pretended to
justify it by reason, but to have conthough, even then, some instruction
secrated it as a part of their religion ? from above seemed necessary to inform him of many particulars, which
To this very day, what are the dis
coveries of new nations in the Ameriit was highly proper for him then to
can or African world; but generally know; but we speak of him in the
speaking, the opening new scenes of degenerate condition in which he now so evidently lies, by whatever
enormity? Rapine, lust, cruelty, means he fell into it. It is very easy
human sacrifices, and the most stupid to make florid encomiums on the per
idolatries, are, and always have been, fection of natural light, and to deceive
the morality and religion of almost all unwary readers by an ambiguous
the Pagan nations under heaven; and
if they have discovered a dawn of term, as a late author has done in his deistical writings; a fallacy beneath
reason, it has only sufficed to con
vince them of an abler guide, to an ingenuous reasoner, and wbich
direct them in pursuit of real happialone ought to have exposed his book
ness. to the contempt of every serious reader. Truth needs no disguise; a But perhaps some of our readers candid advocate scorns such subter- have only heard those things by uncerfuges ; let facts speak for themselves, tain reports. If this be the case, look and controversy will soon be decid- around you within the sphere of your ed. We appeal to every intelligent own observation, and remark the reader, who is acquainted with the temper and character of the generalirecords of antiquity, or that has any ty of those who have been educated knowledge of the present state of in a Christian, and even in a Protestthose countries where Christianity ant country. Observe their ignois unknown, whether it is not too rance and forgetfulness of the Divine obvious a truth, that the whole bea. | Being, their impieties, their debauthen world has lain, and still lies, in cheries, their fraud, their oppression, a state of wickedness ? Have not the their pride, their avarice, their ambigreater part of them been perpetual- | tion, their unnatural insensibility to
the wants, sorrows, and interest of he would not certainly conclude he each other: and when you see how would never do it : considering, on bad they generally are in the midst of the one hand, how justly they stood so many advantages, judge by that of exposed to his final displeasure: and, the probable state of those that want on the other, what provision he had them. When the candid reader has made by the frame of the human well weighed these particulars, let mind, and, of nature around us, for him judge whether a revelation be an giving us . such notices of himself, as unnecessary thing.
would leave us inexcusable, if we ei
ther failed to know him, or to glorify 2. There is, from the light of na- | him as God, as the apostle argues at ture, considerable encouragement large. (Rom. i. 20, &c.) Nevertheto hope, that God would favour his | less, we should have something of this creatures with so desirable a thing as kind to hope, from considering God a revelation appears to be.
as the indulgent father of his crea
tures; from observing the tender That a revelation is in itself a possi- care he takes of us, and the liberal ble thing, is evident beyond all sha- supply which he grants for the sup. dow of doubt. Shall not He that port of the animal life: especially from . made man's mouth, who has given us the provision he has made for man, this wonderful faculty of discovering considered as a guilty and calamitous our sentiments, and communicating creature, by the medicinal and healour ideas to each other ; shall not being virtues he has given to the probe able to converse with his rational ductions of nature, which man, in a creatures, and by sensible manifesta- | perfect state of rectitude and happil tions, or inward'impressions, to con ness, never would have needed. vey the knowledge of things, which lie beyond the discernment of their | This is a circumstance which seems natural faculties, and yet may be strongly to intimate, that he would, highly conducive to their advantage ? | some time or other, graciously proTo own a God, and to deny him vide an adequate remedy to heal the such a power, would be a notorious minds of the children of men; and that contradiction. Butit may appear much | he would interpose to instruct them in more dubious, whether we will please 1 his own nature, in the manner in which to confer such a favour on sinful he is to be served, and in the finaltreat.creatures.
ment which they may expect from
him. And certainly such an appre. Now it must be acknowledged, that hension seems very congruous to the
sentiments of the generality of man-, is certain that no method of arguing is kind; a sufficient proof that men na- ' so short, so plain, and so turally expect some such kind of in on the whole so well suited to convicterposition of the Almighty.
tion, and probably the reformation of
mankind, as a course of evident, re3. It is natural to conclude, that if peated, and uncontrolled miracles. a revelation were given, it would be And such a method of proof is espeintroduced, and transmitted in such | cially adapted to the populace, who · a manner as the Evangelists shew us are incomparably the greater part of Christianity was.
mankind, and for whose benefit
we may assure ourselves a revelation It is, for instance, highly probable, would be chiefly designed. It might that it should be taught either by be added, that it was no way impro-some illustrious person, sent down bable, though not in itself certain, from a superior world, or at least by that a dispensation should open gra. a man of eminent wisdom and piety, dually to the world; and that the who should himself have been not most illustrious messenger of God to only a teacher, but an example of men should be ushered in by some righteousness. In order to this, it predictions which should raise a great seems probable, that he should be expectation of his appearance, and led through a series of calamities and have an evident accomplishment in distress; since, otherwise, he could | him. not have been a pattern of that resignation which adorns adversity, and is As to the propagation of a religion peculiar to it. And it might also so introduced, it seems no way imhave been expected that in the ex- probable, that having been thus estatremity of his distress, the Almighty, blished in its first age, it should be whose messenger he was, should in transmitted to future generations, by some extraordinary manner, have credible testimony, as other imporinterposed either to preserve or to tant facts are. It is certain, that affairs recover him from death.
of the utmost moment, transacted
among men, depend on testimony: It is, moreover, exceedingly proba- | on this, voyages are undertaken, setble, that such a person, and, perhaps, | tlements made, and controversies also they who were at first employed decided : controversies on which not as his messengers to the world, only the estates but the lives of men should be endowed with a power of depend. Though it must be owned, working miracles, both to awaken that such an historical evidence is not -men's attention, and to prove his equally convincing with, miracles divine mission, and the consequent which are wrought before. our own truth of his doctrines, some of eyes; yet it is certain, it may rise to which might perhaps be capable of such a degree as to exclude all reasonno other proof; or if they were, it able doubt. We know not why we