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rule of their lives, and the directory of their conduct; and that, in fact, multitudes of the several nations were proselyted unto, and baptized into, the faith of Christianity. Now, was it possible, at any time whatsoever, after those pretended facts, that these nations could be ignorant, whether these books and this religion were handed down to them by their
progenitors ? Could not every one of the nations, who are in these books said to be converted to Christianity, at once conclude that they had never heard any thing of this nature before; and therefore, that these histories were all false and spurious, and consequently not worthy of the least notice ? Is it possible, that the world should agree to venture both time and eternity upon such a known falsehood? Could all the world at once be gulled by such glaring and open forgery and deceit? In a word, these books were many of them directed to large societies of men, in different parts of the world; were early translated into divers languages, in which they are still extant; have been publicly kept, and publicly read in the churches; have been appealed to by all parties and sects; and never called in question as a forgery, either by the friends or enemies of the Christian cause. All these things put together, we have as much certainty that these histories are not, cannot, be forgery or imposture, as we can have of any thing whatsoever not immediately open to our senses.
Now, Sir, let us sum up this evidence, and see what the conclusion must be.
All mankivd must own, that if the history of these facts be true; if the Lord Jesus Christ did perform so many astonishing miracles for so long a time to
gether, in justification of his divine mission; if he did himself rise from the dead, commission his apostles to their work, endow them with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, and empower them, by the imposition of their hands, to communicate the same miraculous gifts to others, here was certainly the greatest interposition of heaven in favour of the Christian institution, that can possibly be imagined or conceived. The power and veracity of God hímself were at stake in this case: for they were both appealed to, in confirmation of the truth; and both in the most amazing manner displayed, in answer to that appeal. All doubting in this case is, therefore, a calling in question the truth and faithfulness of God himself, as well as his power.
If this history be not true, then all the known laws of nature were changed: all the motives and incentives to human actions, that ever had obtained in the world, have been entirely inverted; the most wicked men in the world have taken the greatest pains, and endured the greatest hardships and misery, to invent, practise, and propagate the most holy religion that ever was: and not only the apostles and first preachers of the Gospel, but whole nations of men, and all sorts of men, Christian, Jew, and. Pagan, were (nobody can imagine how or why) confederated to propagate a known cheat, against their own honour, interest, and safety; and multitudes of men, without any prospect of advantage, here or hereafter, were brought most constantly and tenaciously to profess what they knew to be false, to exchange all the comforts and pleasures of life for shame and contempt, for banishments, scourgings,
imprisonments, and death; in a word, voluntarily to expose themselves to be hated both of God and man, and that without any known motive whatsoever.This must be allowed, or else you must allow, that no man ever was, or ever can be certain of any thing, as is more particularly considered above.
There now remains one of these three things a necessary conclusion from what has been said; either, 1. That these consequences may be justified; or, 2. That they are not regularly deduced from the premises; or, 3. That the Christian religion is true, and of divine authority. I am persuaded you will not assume either of the two former of these conclusions: the latter, therefore, forces itself upon you.
That the Lord may direct you in the way of truth and path of life, is the prayer of,
SOME OF THE INTERNAL EVIDENCES OF CHRIS
ACCORDING to the direction given in your last, I shall use the greatest freedom in my answer, and, lay ing aside all reserves, shall presume on your candour.
You s cannot see (you tell me) how these arguments of mine, for the truth of Christianity, can admit of a rational and consistent answer." How then can you be bụt almost spersuaded to be a Christian ?!!
How can you want to some general and easy directions, how to get rid of those doubts which still hang upon your mind, from the various difficulties which are continually casting themselves in your way ?
" Do you deal thus with yourself in other cases of infinitely less importance? Do you harass your mind with doubts about other things which are clearly evident to you, only because you meet with some difficulties which you cannot readily solve? This were the way to downright scepticism, in every thing which falls under your consideration, whether natural or moral. And, at this rate, you may call into question your own being, and all your rational powers, as well as every thing you see, hear, or feel. For I dare say, there are difficulties enough in any or all of these, to puzzle the most sagacious philosopher that ever breathed, and to nonplus the inquiries of all the men in the world.
The question before you is, whether the facts upon which the evidence of Christianity depends, are clearly proved, and necessarily true? If so, there certainly must be some way to solve all those difficulties, whether you have found out the method to do it or not. You should likewise consider, that it is of no importance to the safety of your soul, whether you are, or are not, able to obviate all the ob-' jections which fall in your way; but it is of eternal importance that you build on a sure foundation, and that you believe in the only begotten Son of God. This, then, should be your method in the case be
First, see to your foundation; examine thoroughly, seriously, and impartially, whether the evidence for the truth of Christianity be such, that
you have reason to believe it, and that it would be unreasonable not to believe it true; and then, whatever difficulties may occur, do not dig up your foundation, and undermine your faith and hope. Do not give your adversary the advantage to keep you in a continued suspense, lest you live and die an unbeliever, and so have your objections removed when it is too late, when your conviction will but prove your confusion.
I do not speak this to deter you from examining the most subtile objections which the greatest enemies of Christianity are able to throw in your way. The cause will bear the strictest scrutiny, the severest trial; and you can hardly imagine any difficulty, but what has been clearly and judiciously resolved, by one or other of the late defenders of this glorious cause. But are you convinced that “the arguments to prove the truth of Christianity admit of no rational answer ?" Take, then, the Apostle's advice, in all the further inquiries you shall make, to “ hold fast the beginning of your confidence, steadfast unto the end.”
This, then, is part of that general advice I would give you, that you may get rid of those doubts which still hang upon your mind. Follow it, and it will at least lessen your difficulties, and may make your way plain before you. But this is not the principal direction necessary to be taken in this case. It is of special consequence to see to it, that you experience the power of Christianity in your own heart. Reject this advice, and it is impossible that you
should be “rooted and built up in Christ, and established in the faith.” But comply with it, and it is impossible that hell and earth can finally subvert your