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need not have their own faith shaken by the indifference, which they may think they observe in others; and, that those who show this indifference, are not aware of the evidence that may fairly be produced in favour of Christianity, nor at all suspect, amidst the difficulties and objections that may

have occurred to them, how unreasonable, after all, is their disbelief, and how little they comprehend the real position in which they stand with regard to their Almighty Creator. This I shall endeavour to do, by laying before them such remarks of learned and intelligent men, as I think ought to influence their minds.

I have looked over various books and treatises, and from such as I thought the most important, I have produced extracts, and have made such statements and drawn such conclusions, as appeared to me to be reasonable. From the authors I have referred to, I have generally taken such passages as I thought to my purpose, and have given them as much as possible, in their own words; often abbreviating these passages, but always retaining what I thought their meaning and their value.

At the same time, I have sometimes accompanied them with such remarks as occurred to me, so that most of the observations which the reader will find, are not to be considered so much the result of

any learning of mine, or any labour of my own thoughts, as the statements and reasonings of others. I have confined myself entirely to the great question of the truth of the Christian Religion; of the evidence which may be brought in support of it; the external evidence and the internal. The doctrines contained in the New Testament I have scarcely alluded to; they are a different question, and are to be considered when the authority of the New Testament has been first established: and I must request that it may be always understood, that I am not writing as a divine, but addressing myself as a layman, not to those who are already believers, but to those who are unbelievers, and endeavouring to meet them on their own grouuds.

And before I go into the detail of this important subject, I shall make a few remarks on the nature and character of those, to whom I more

particularly mean to submit, what I think

may

be offered to their reflection. While doing so, I shall probably anticipate much of what I may hereafter lay before them, and I may thus, and in my subsequent Dissertation, often repeat the same arguments, and again and again produce the same views, such as I conceive fitted to influence their minds; being little concerned about the symetry or beauties of composition, and thinking only of the impression to be made on my reader; which impression may be materially assisted by such repetitions, and may dwell with effect upon the memory,

when

my

work is no longer thought of. But before I proceed to describe the nature and character of those, whom I am desirous to address, I must require all such persons to consider what is the exact sort of evidence on which the truth of Christianity has been left to rest, by the Almighty Being, whose creatures we are.

We have the prophecies of the Old and New Testament—we have the miracles performed by the Saviour and by his apostles—we have the manner in which the religion was propagated

and on

among mankind—the impossibility, except on the supposition of its truth, that this propagation should either have been attempted or accomplished -the impossibility that such a being as the Saviour should have arisen out of such a community as the Jewish nation then

was ;

the whole, the constant necessity we are under, of supposing the truth of the religion, while we are considering the events connected with it: how and where it arose, the astonishing effects it produced upon its first converts, and more early disciples, its subsequent effect upon the world, and lastly, the nature of its doctrines, so removed from all philosophic anticipation, and so unlikely to have been conceived by any human imagination.

But if such be the nature of the evidence, one observation must now be made, and it must never be forgotten, not only by those who are at present sceptics, but by those, who, believers themselves, are uneasy when they meet with a want of that belief in others, which they feel would be a sanction to their own. I must suggest to them then, that such evidence, as we have been describing,

cannot compel the assent; it may be quite sufficient to procure the assent of any mind, that is in a natural and sound state, but it cannot compel the assent of any mind, which, on whatever account of perverseness or unreasonableness, is resolved not

to assent.

Let no pious ear be alarmed, if I say, that the evidence for Christianity is not of a nature that can compel the assent. Evidence of this kind can only exist in particular cases; these particular cases are, where the truths of science are concerned, in the propositions for instance of geometry, or the facts of experimental philosophy—here the evi. dence is addressed to the senses or the understanding; but this evidence is of a different nature from what is called moral evidence it is this latter evidence that belongs to the conduct of life; we proceed upon it every moment; we depend upon it, and justly depend, on every occasion.

. It is the only evidence from the nature of our situation here, which was ever intended for our government or can be placed within our reach—it is that sort of evidence, which it is unreasonable to resist,

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