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repent when they please; and thereby have an easy access to the favour of God? In a word, what evidence can you possibly pretend to from the light of nature, that repentance only will satisfy the divine justice, and reconcile you to God ?
But, after all, were it even supposed that repentance would necessarily give us a claim to mercy, without any other satisfaction to God's justice, it must then be another sort of repentance than you seem to suppose.
You must then allow, that this repentance must be a thorough change of heart and life. For you can hardly suppose, that we are qualified for God's favour, while all the powers of our souls are in direct opposition and aversion to him. And is this repentance in our power? Can we pleasure renew our own souls, and give our elves new affections, dispositions, desires, and delights ? Can we change the bent and bias of our inclinations to the objects of sense, and bring ourselves to love God above all things, and to take our chief delight and complacency in him ? This must be obtained, in order to enjoy the favour of God.
And yet it is manifestly out of our reach. It must be the effect of an Almighty power.
I hope you may now see the necessity of a Saviour, both to expiate your sin and guilt, which your repentance can never do, and to sanctify your depraved soul, and make you meet for the service and enjoyment of God. If these are obtained, you must be certainly and eternally safe ; but if you dare venture into eternity without them, I must needs say you
do not want courage. You see I have addressed you with an unreserved
freedom and familiarity. I have overlooked the distance of your character, and treated you as if we were in the same state of equality now, as we shall quickly find ourselves before the tribunal of our glorious Judge. The cause requires this at my hands; and I should have been unfaithful, I had almost said unmerciful to you, if I had not failed of the decorum which would have been my duty to have observed in
I shall therefore depend upon your candid interpretation of this unpolished address ; and your kind acceptance of the faithful designs and desires of,
Your most obedient humble Servant.
A BRIEF AND GENERAL VIEW OF THE EVIDENCES
OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,
letter had almost thrown you into a fit of the spleen.” But I cannot but hope, from
your “ awful concern lest you meet with the confusion I have therein described,” that it will have a better effect. I acknowledge, that “a pathetic declamation cannot be received for argument ;” and your faith must be built
evidences that will reach the understanding, as well as the softer passions of the soul.” But what evidence do
you desire, or want, of the truth of Christianity ? Consider, Sir.
Consult your books and your friends.
Make your demands as large as you or they can contrive ; and whatever rational evidence you are pleased to ask for, shall be at your service.
I have myself, with particular application, been considering what reasonable evidence can possibly be consulted or desired, which the glorious God has not already given us, in confirmation of the Christian institution; and I find nothing wanting which we are capable of receiving.
And I cannot but presume, that if you likewise would impartially and in earnest put yourself upon the same inquiry, you must meet with a full and complete satisfaction.
You will certainly acknowledge, that the great Creator is capable, some way or other, to communicate his will to intelligent beings, with sufficient evidence that the revelation is from him. Now, what I desire of you is, to sit down, and consult upon some such means of doing this, as would strike your mind with the strongest conviction, obviate all your doubts, and give you the fullest confirmation of the divine original of such a revelation. When you are come to a point, consider the credentials of Christianity; and see whether you can find what you yourself would demand, and what you suppose most likely to give you satisfaction.
Would you expect from such a revelation a reasonable account of our first original ? Look into the Mosaic history of the creation ; and there you will find, how the world, and how yourself, originally sprang
from the divine fiat, and in what manner we are the offspring of God.
Would you expect a narrative of such circumstances of God's dispensations towards us from the
beginning, as would be correspondent with our constant experience and observation? The same history will inform you of those irregular affections, and vitiated appetites and passions, which every man finds in himself; and which have brought such destruction and misery upon the world, in all its successive periods, since Adam's fall.
Would you expect that there should be early intimations of the method of our recovery from the state of sin and guilt, which we had brought ourselves into by an apostacy? You will there also find the gracious promise, that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head;" and deliver us from the deadly effects of his malicious temptation. Would
desire to find a particular prediction of the promised Saviour, by whom we are to obtain a redemption--his lineage and descent; the time, place, and manner of his birth ; the circumstances of his life, death, and resurrection; a particular description of the nature, the subjects, and the continual progress of his kingdom ? Read the prophecies of the Old Testament, and read the history in the New ; and you
will find such a correspondence and agreement, as will afford you matter of fullest satisfaction, that they are both from God.
Would you expect that there should be some means to keep the promised Saviour in the continued view of God's people, before his actual and personal manifestation, and to keep alive their faith and hope in him ? What were all their sacrifices, their legal purifications, their priesthood, and all their long train of rites and ceremonies, but institutions purposely adapted to that end ?
Would you expect repeated and renewed testimonies from heaven, to the professing people of God, that their religion was from him; and that their faith and hope, excited by these typical institutions, were built upon a sure foundation ? Such were the miracles frequently wrought among them, the manifestation of the divine presence in the Shechinah, their Urim and Thummim, their frequent oracles, their succession of prophets, whose predietions respecting the Jews themselves, and the nations round about them, were continually fulfilled and fulfilling before their eyes; and the accomplishment of many of them are apparently open and visible to us also.
Would you suppose, that near the predicted time of the Saviour's appearance, not only the Jewish nation, but all others that were acquainted with their sacred books, would live in raised expectations of this great and wonderful event? You will find in the Gospels, in Josephus, De Bell. Jud. lib. vii. cap. 31. Tacitus, Hist. cap. 13. and Suetonius, in Vespas. cap. 4. that this was the case in fact.
Would you expect, that when the Saviour did appear, he would, by the holiness and beneficence of his life, and by numerous open and uncontested miracles, give such attestation to his divine mission, as would be sufficient evidence, that he was indeed the Messiah so frequently predicted, and so earnestly expected ? Do not the sacred historians answer your highest expectations in this respect? In them you find that the dead were raised, the sick healed, the maimed restored to the use of their limbs, the sight of the blind recovered, the deaf brought to their hearing, the lepers cleansed, the demons ejected;