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body of the Jewish people perished in their obstinate opposition to him*, yet, the Gentiles should be brought to the knowledge of the true Godt, and a kingdom established amongst them, which from small beginnings should spread itself to the ends of the earth, and continue to the remotest ages.

Besides these most material circumstances, there were several others relating to him, which were either expressly foretold, or at least hinted at; all which, with those already mentioned, had so evident an accomplishment in Jesus, allowing the truth of the facts which the apostles testified concerning him, that we have no reason to wonder, that they should receive the word with all readiness, who searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so predicted there, as the apostles affirmedg. For I am persuaded, that no wise and religious person could iinagine, that God would permit an impostor to arise, in whom so great a variety of predictions, delivered by so many different persons, and in so many distant ages, should have an exact accomplishment.

When the apostles were preaching to heathens, it is indeed true, that they generally waved the argument from prophecy, because they were not so capable judges of it: But then they insist on another, wbich might as soon captivate their belief, and as justly vindicate it, I mean, “ the miracles performed by Christ, and those commissioned and influenced by him.” Many of these were of such a nature, as not to admit of any artifice or deceit: Especially, that most signal one of his resurrection from the dead, which I may call a miracle performed by, as well as upon Christ; because he so expressly declares, that he had himself a power to resume his life at pleasurel. The apostles well knew, this was a fact of such a nature, that they who believed this, would never doubt of the rest : They therefore often single this out, and lay the whole stress of their cause upon it. This they proved to be true, by their own testimony miraculously confirmed ; and in proving this, they establish christianity on an impregnable rock. For I may safely refer it to any of you to judge, whether it is an imaginable thing, that God should raise the dead body of an impostor ; especially when he had solemnly appealed to such a resurrection, as the grand proof of bis mission, and had expressly fixed the very day on which it was to happen*.

Isa. vi. 9, 10. xxix. 10. xlix, 4, 5. liji. 1. Ixv. 2. + Psal. ii. 8. xxi. 27. Ixxxvi. 9. Isa. ii. 2, 3. xi. 10. xlii. 1, 4, 6, 7. xlv. 29. xlix, 6-12. Mal. i. 11. Dan. ii. 44. vii. 13, 14, 27.

$ Acts xvii. 11. | John X. 18. q Acts ii. 24–32. ii. 15. iv. 10.

v. 30, 32. x. 40, 41, xiii. 30-39. xvii. 31. xxvi. 23. Rom. 8. 9. 1 Cor, xv, 3–8, 18-29, Mat. xxvü. 63. John ü. 19, 21,

I persuade myself you are convinced by all this, that they who on the apostles' testimony believed, that the prophecies of the Old Testament were accomplished in Jesus, and that God bore witness to him by miracles, and raised him from the dead, bad abundant reason to believe, that the doctrine which Christ taught was divine, and his gospel a revelation from heaven. And if they had reason to admit this conclusion, then it is plain, that we, who have such satisfactory evidence, on the one hand, that the testimony of the apostles was credible, and on the other, that this was the substance of it, have reason also to admit this grand inference from it, and to embrace the gospel as A faithful saying, and as well worthy of all acceptationt. This is the thing I was attempting to prove ; and here I should end the argument, were it not for the confirmation it may receive from some additional considerations, which could not properly be introduced under any of the preceding heads. I add, therefore, 7. In the last place, “ that the truth of the gospel has re

ceived farther, and very considerable confirmation, from
what has happened in the world since it was first pub-
lished."
And here I must desire you, more particularly to consider,
-on the one hand, what God has been doing to establish it;

and on the other, the methods which its enemies have been taking to destroy it. (1.) Consider “what God has been doing to confirm the gos

pel since its first publication,” and you will find it a farther evidence of its divine original.

I might here argue at large, from its surprising propagation in the world ;from the miraculous powers, with which not only the apostles, but succeeding preachers of the gospel, and other converts were endowed ;- from the accomplishment of prophecies recorded in the New Testament ;—and from the preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, notwithstanding the various difficulties and persecutions through which they have passed.

I might particularly urge, in confirmation of the truth of christianity, “the wonderful success with which it was attended, and the surprising propagation of the gospel in the world."

4 1 Tim. i. 15.

I have before endeavoured under a former head to shew you, that the gospel met with so favourable a reception in the world, as evidently proved, that its first publishers were capable of producing such evidence of its truth, as an imposture could not admit. But now, I carry the remark farther, and assert, that considering the circumstances of the case, it is amazing that even truth itself, under so many disadvantages, should have so illustrious'a triumph; and that its wonderful success does evidently argue such an extraordinary interposition of God in its favour, as may justly be called a miraculous attestation to it.

There was not only one of a family, or two of a city taken, and brought to Zion*; but so did The Lord hasten it in its appointed time, that a little one became a thousand, and a small one a strong nationt. And as the apostles themselves were honoured with very remarkable success, so this divine seed was propagated so fast in the next age, that Pliny testifies, “ he found the heathen temples in Achaia, almost desertedt:” And Tertullian afterwards boasts, “ that all places but those temples were filled with christians ; so that were they only to withdraw, cities and provinces would be depopulated f.” Nor did the gospel only triumph thus within the boundaries of the Roman empire; for long before Tertullian was born, Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, which seems to have been written not much above one hundred years after Christ's death, declares, “ that there was no nation of men, whether Greeks or Barbarians, not excepting those savages, that wandered in clans from one region to another, and had no fixed habitation, who had not learnt to offer prayers and thanksgivings to the Father and Maker of all, in the name of Jesus who was crucifiedll.”

# Jer. ii. 14.

# Isa. lx. 22.
* Prope jam desolata Templa—& sacra Solennia diu intermissa.

Plin. Epist. x. 97. Hesterni sumus, & vestra omnia implevimus, Urbes, Insulas, Castella, Municipia, Conciliabula, Castra ipsa, Tribus, Decurias, Palatium, Senatum, Forum; Sola vobis relinquimus Templa :-Potuimus & inermes, nec rebelles, sed tantummodo discordes, solius divortii invidiâ adversus vos dimicasse ;-suffudisset dominationem vestram tot amissio civium, & ipsa destitutione punisset.

Tertul. Apolog. Cap. xxxvii. Η Ουδε εν γαρ ολο; ει το γενος ανθρωπων, είτε Βαρβαρων, είτε Ελληνων, ελε απλως ωλενιαν ονομασία προσαγορευομενων, η Αμαξοβιων, η Αρικων καλεμενων,

Now how can we account for such a scene as this, but by saying, that The hand of the Lord was with the first preachers of the gospel, and therefore such multitudes believed, and turned unto the Lord*? How had it been possible, that so small a fountain should presently have swelled into a mighty river, and even have covered the face of the earth, had it not sprung from the sanctuary of God, and been rendered thus triumphant by his almighty arm?

Had this new religion, so directly contrary to all the prejudices of education, been contrived to soothe men's vices, to assert their errors, to defend their superstitions, or to promote their secular interests, we might easily have accounted for its prevalence in the world. Had its preachers been very profound philosophers, or polite and fashionable orators, many might have been charmed, at least for a while, to follow them: Or had the princes and potentates of the earth declared themselves its patrons, and armed their legions for its defence and propagation, multitudes might have been terrified into the profession, though not a soul could by such means have been rationally persuaded to the belief of it. But without some such advantages as these we can hardly conceive, how any new religion should so strangely prerail; even though it had crept into the world in its darkest ages, and most barbarous countries, and though it had been gradually proposed in the most artful manner, with the finest veil industriously drawn over every part, which might at first have given disgust to the beholder.

But you well know, that the very reverse of all this was the case here. You know, from the apparent constitution of christianity, that the lusts and errors, the superstitions and interests of carnal men would immediately rise up against it as a most irreconcileable enemy. You know, that the learning and wit of the Greeks, and the Romans, were early employed to overbear and ridicule it. You know, that as all the herd of heathen deities were to be discarded, the priests, who subsisted on that craft, must in interest find themselves obliged to oppose it. You know, that the princes of the earth drew their swords against it, and armed torments and death for the destruction of its followers. And yet you see, that it triumphed over all, though published in ages, and places, of the greatest learning and refinement; and proposed, not in an ornamental and artificial

η εν σκηναις κτηνοτροφων, εν οις μη, δια τα ονοματος το ταυρωθευλος Ιησε ευχαι και ευχαρισια: τω πατρα και ποιηση των ολων γινονται.

Justin. Mart. pag. 388. Edit. Thirlb. • Acts xi. 21.

manner, but with the utmost plainness : The doctrines of the cross being always avowed as its grand fundamentals, though so notorious a stumbling block both to Jews and Gentiles*; and the absolute necessity, not only of embracing christianity, but also of renouncing all idol worship, being insisted on immediately and in the strongest terms, though it must make the gospel appear the most singular and unsociable religion that had ever been taught in the world.

Had one of the wits, or politicians of these ages seen the apostles, and a few other plain men, who had been educated amongst the lowest of the people, as most of the first teachers of christianity were, going out armed with nothing but faith, truth, and goodness, to encounter the power of princes, the bigotry of priests, the learning of philosophers, the rage of the populace, and the prejudices of all ; how would he have derided the attempt, and said with Sanballat, IVhat will these feeble Jews dot? But had he seen the event, surely he must have owned, with the Egyptian Magi, in a far less illustrious miracle, that it was The finger of Godf, and might justly have fallen on his face, even amongst those whom he had insulted, with an humble acknowledgment That God was in them of a truth.

I might here farther urge “ those miracles, which were wrought in confirmation of the christian doctrine, for a considerable time after the death of the apostles."

The most signal, and best attested of these, was the dispossession of devils; whom God seems to have permitted to rage with an unusual violence about those times, that his Son's triumph over them might be so much the more remarkable, and that the old serpent might be taken in his own craftiness. I doubt not, but many

of
you

have heard, that more than two hundred years after the death of Christ, some of the most celebrated defenders of the gospel, which the church has in any age produced, I mean Tertullian'l, and Minutius Fælix , do not only challenge any of their heathen enemies and persecutors, to bring them a demoniack, engaging, at the hazard of their lives, to oblige the evil spirit, in the name, and by the authority of Christ, to quit his possession ; but do also appeal to it, as a fact publicly known, that those who were agitated by such spirits, stood terrified, and amazed in the presence of a christian, and that their pretended Gods were compelled then to confess themselves devils.

I wave the testimonies of some later writers of the christian

• 1 Cor. i. 23.
f 1 Cor. xiv. 25.

+ Neh.iv. 2.
|| Tertul. Apolog. Cap. ii.

+ Exod. viii. 19, Minut. Fæl. Cap, xxvii.

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