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for many ages, and probably will maintain it to the end and consummation of all things.
These additional supports make the second great branch of Christian doctrine : they are revived upon the authority of revelation, and stand upon the evidence of external proofs. That we ought to turn froin idols, and serve the living God; that we ought to serve him in holiness and purity, in conforming ourselves to the example of his justice, equity, and goodness, are truths which every man may feel to be such, who has any reason or natural feeling about him: but that we have been delivered from the wrath to come by Jesus the Son of God; that God raised him from the dead, and hath appointed him to be judge both of the dead and of the living, are articles which no man's reason can suggest; which, when suggested, reason cannot receive upon any internal evidence, but must take them upon an authority sufficiently confirmed and established upon external evidence.
This distinction, constantly attended to, will go a great way in Thewing us the true temper and genius of the Christian religion, and the end proposed by its divine author. Consider the Gospel in its precepts and morality; and is there any doctrine advanced, any duty required, but what reason must admit and approve, or which it can reject without doing violence to itself ? Is there, in this respect, any objection against the Christian religion, but what is and must be equally an objection against all natural religion? Consider the Gospel with respect to its new doctrines, its articles of belief: you will find them all designed to support and encourage
true religion, and to preserve the world from falling again into that confusion of idolatry and superstition, which for many ages held it in darkness. This might be thewn in the several particulars of the Gofpel dispensation: but I shall confine myself to those specified in the text.
St. Paul teaches us to wait for the Son of God from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jefus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
To wait for the Son of God from heaven, fignifies to continue with patience and well-doing, in expectation of the coming of our Saviour and Judge; which sense is completely expressed, Philip. iii. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as you have us for an ensample--for our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unte his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to fubdue all things unto himself.
The expectation of Christ coming to judge the world is peculiar to Christians ; and it is supported by the belief of the resurrection of Christ, that great and main point of faith, which the Apostles were commissioned to teach and establish in the church of God: for which reason, when an Apostle was to be chosen in the room of Judas, the qualifi. cation required in the person to succeed was, that he should be one capable of bearing teftimony of the resurrection of Christ. Take the account in St. Pe. ter's own words : Of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and eut amongst us, beginning from the baptism of John,
unto that same day that he was taken up from us, muft one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection, Acts i. 21, 22. And, in the next chapter, St. Peter, vindicating to the Jews the miraculous gift of tongues bestowed on the day of Pentecost, renders this account of the work and ministry of the apoftleship: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did, by him, in the midst of you— Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and pain, ver 22, 23. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses, ver. 32. To the same purpose again, in the third chapter, Ye denied the Holy One and the Juft, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses, ver. 14, 15. In the fourth chapter an account is given us of the courage and boldness of the Apostles in preaching Christ to the rulers, and of the success of their mipistry among the people: the sum of it we have in these words: With great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all, ver. 33. In the fifth chapter the Apostles are called again before the council: the high priest charges them with disobeying the injunctions given them not to preach in Christ's name: St. Peter and the rest answer him and the council, by opening to them the commission and authority by which they acted, and the doctrine which they taught: We ought, say they, to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye New and hanged on a tree : hinn hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Ifrael, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these, things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him, ver. 29, 30, 31, 32. From these passages of Scripture, taken together, it plainly appears how much the Christian religion, considered as a distinct system from natural religion, depends upon the belief of the resurrection of Christ. The Apostles were ordained to be witnesses of this article : this article is the foundation upon which they build all the hopes and expectations peculiar to Christians : if they preach repentance to Israel and forgiveness of fins, it is in his name, whom God raised from the dead: if they turn to the Gentiles with offers of peace and reconciliation, it is still in his name, whom God raised from the dead, and ordained to be the Judge of quick and dead.
When St. Paul preached at Athens, they thought him an introducer of some new deities, he talked so much of Jesus and the resurrection, Acts xvii. 18. Which doctrine of a resurrection he afterwards fully expounded to them, together with the consequents belonging to it: Now, says the Apostle, God commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained ; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, ver. 30, 31. This passage of St. Paul gives a very plain account of the concern to propagate and establish the article of Christ's resurrection. The resurrection of Christ was designed
to be an evidence and assurance to the world of God's intention to judge the world in righteousness. This new article was introduced to be a new evidence of a future state of rewards and punishments, and to support the finner's hopes of pardon and reconciliation through the promises of Christ, whom God had appointed to be his judge.
You see then the use of this great article of Christian faith. Let us consider now whether we are beholden to the Gospel, and how much, for this new evidence of a life to come; and what there is in this article, and the doctrines grounded upon it, that any sober Deift, or professor of natural religion, can justly blame. Natural religion pretends to support itself upon
the expectation of future rewards and punishments : it considers God as governor and judge of the world. Christian religion stands upon the fame foundation, and admits for genuine all these hopes and fears of nature. Thus far there is no difference. The quertion is, which brings the best proof, and most fitted to persuade the world of this great truth? Natural religion appeals to conscience, and that sense which all men have of their being accountable for their actions. The Chriítian religion embraces all this evidence, and whatever else can be fuggested by reason to render the hopes of futurity probable, or certain : to these evidences it adds the express testimony and assurance of God given to mankind in the resurrection of his beloved Son Christ Jefus.
But what need, you will say, of this new evi. dence ? Were not the arguments, which natural re,