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of these sacred books, notwithstanding their very different manner of writing, the very distant ages in which they wrote, and the very different circumstances of the church in their respective times of writing, have yet all taught the same doctrines, all described the same dangers, and all pointed out the same way to eternal salvation ?
Thus, Sir, I have set before you, in the closest and most connected view, some brief hints of the credentials of Christianity. I know you are capable of extending your demands yet further; and of proposing something else, that may still serve to reflect new light upon the Christian revelation: and there is yet much more at your service, when you will be pleased to make your demands. You must, however, in the mean time, allow me the freedom to say, that the evidence now in view is sufficient to fill the mind of every unprejudiced person with a necessary and infallible certainty of the truth we are inquiring after. Deliberately consider each of these arguments separately and particularly; consider them all in their connection and relation to each other; and then try whether you can refuse your assent to the Gospel of Christ.
There is, I am sensible, one objection ready to offer itself to your mind against all this; and that is, • How do I know that the great and principal facts, upon which Christianity is especially built, may be depended upon as certainly true ? How do I know the congruity of the prophecies with the event ? How do I know the miraculous conception of the Lord Jesus Christ, the attestation of the angels to his birth; or that he wrought such miracles in con
firmation of his divine mission; and that he rose again from the dead, and ascended up to heaven ? How do I know that his apostles were inspired with such extraordinary and divine gifts, or that they performed such miraculous operations ?
To this I answer, that some of the evidences which I have offered, are what directly, upon the very first view, you may know, and cannot but know, to be certainly and infallibly true, if you will but open your eyes to observe them. You do certainly know, that human nature is dreadfully corrupted and vitiated; that it is opposite to the holiness and purity of the Divine Being; and that there is, therefore, great necessity of a Saviour, to bring us to God, and to rectify our depraved nature. You may certainly know, that there are a great variety of predictions of such a Saviour dispersed through the whole Old Testament; and that the whole nation of the Jews always did, and still do, from thence, live in raised expectations of a Messiah. You may certainly know, that there were a great number of rites and ceremonies religiously observed and practised among the Jews; and that sacrificing in particular was not only enjoined - upon them, but early and generally practised among all nations. For none of which things can there be any manner of reason given or imagined, unless they were types and adumbrations of an expected Saviour.
You may certainly know, thát the time prefixed in the Jewish prophecies for the manifestation of the Messiah, was the very time, in which, by the concurring testimony both of the friends and enemies of Christianity, the Lord Jesus did appear. You may certainly know, that the Jewish
prophets did foretel a suffering Saviour, a Saviour that should be " wounded for our transgressions,
bruised for our iniquities;" that should “ make his ther soul an offering for our sin;" and that should " be
cut off, but not for himself:” and you are equally whics certain, from all other historians, as well as from the firs evangelists, that our Lord Jesus did undergo such
contempt, misery, and death, as was foretold of the Messiah by the prophets. You may certainly know, that it was foretold in the prophets, that “the sceptre should not depart from Judah, and a lawgiver from between his feet, until the coming of the Messiah;" but that, after his death, the Jewish sacrifices should cease, and their holy city and sanctuary be destroyed and made desolate; and that the event does assure us, that the circumstances of the Jewish nation did exactly answer to these prophecies, both before and after the death of Jesus Christ. You may certainly know, both by the Jewish and Christian prophecies, that, under the Gospel dispensation, the Jews were to be rejected of God, and to continue despised and dispersed among all nations; but the Gentiles to come to the light of the Messiah, and see his righteousness and glory; and that the event is agreeable to the prediction. You may certainly know, that the rise of Antichrist was predicted to be after the fall of the Roman empire, when that could no longer let or restrain him; that he should appear under the guise of a minister of religion, in the temple of God; that he should pretend to “ all power, and signs, and lying wonders ;" that he should make war with the saints,
and overcome them;" that he should reside in the 3 great city, that was then built 66
upon seven moun
tains, and reigned over the kings of the earth,” which was true of the city of Rome only. And you may also consider, whether all this is not true of the Pope and the Roman papacy. You may certainly know the amazing progress of the Gospel in the first ages of Christianity, in the face of the most formidable and powerful oppositions; and its continuing progress, against all the attempts of its heathen and papal enemies.
You may know the excellency of its doctrines, and the glorious effects it hath upon the hearts and lives of true believers. You may know (as, blessed be God, multitudes do know, by experience) how it conquers 'men's corruptions, changes their natures, pacifies their consciences, fills their souls with light and joy, strengthens them against temptations, sweetens the afflictions of life, and fortifies them against all the pains and terrors of death. And you also may know, that this Gospel is the Gospel of Christ ; and, consequently, that these wonderful effects, which so apparently carry a divine signature upon them, are produced by him. All these things, and others of a like nature which might be mentioned, are immediately open to your view, most visible and certain; and one would think, that these alone would satisfy the mind of a serious and impartial inquirer into the truth of Christianity; and especially when these are accompanied with such other credentials of our holy religion, which (though not so directly in view, yet) by necessary consequence, give us the same assurance and certainty of the truth.
But it is time I should come more directly to answer the objection; and to show you how it may, by
necessary consequence, be known, that the facts upon which Christianity principally depends, are certainly true.
You yourself must own, it is impossible that those doctrines can be false, which are attested by so many and such kind of miracles, as are said to be wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. For God cannot set his seal to a lie, nor confirm a horrible imposture by his immediate attestation from heaven.
You must own, that it is impossible for the apostles, and other witnesses of these miraculous operations, to be themselves deceived, while they had all the means of certainty in the case before us, that ever any man had in any case whatsoever.
You must likewise own, that it is impossible for a great number of sober, judicious, and apparently honest men, to spend their lives in a continued conspiracy against their own ease, comfort, honour, life, and eternal welfare, for no other motive but to deceive the world, and bring eternal ruin upon themselves and their fellow-creatures; as these must have done, if they knew those facts to be false, which they published at their peril, and sealed with their blood.
You must also own, that it was impossible to deceive the world about them, at the time when these facts were done, by reporting that such miraculous operations were openly performed before them all, which none of them knew any thing about.
You will certainly own, it is impossible that they could deceive the churches to whom they wrote, by vain pretences, that each one of these had themselves