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ver heard any thing of this nature before ; and therefore that these histories were all false and fpurious, and consequently not worthy of the least notice?-Is it possible, that the world should agree to venture both time and eternity upon fuch 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 focieties of men, in different parts of the world; were early translated in. to divers languages, in which they are fill extant; have been publicly kept and publicly read in the churches ; have been appealed to by all parties and fects, and never called in question as a forgery, either by the friends or enemies of the Chri. ftian cause. --All these things put together, we have as much certainty, that these histories are not, cannot be forgery or impofture, as we can have of any thing whatsoever not immediately open to our senses.
Now, Sir, let us sum up this evidence, and fee what the conclusion must be.
All mankind nuit 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 together, in justification of his divine mission; if he did himself rise from the dead, coinmission his Apostles to their work, endow them with the mi. raculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, and empower them, by the imposition of their hands, to commuricate the same miraculous gifts to others; here was certainly the greatest interposition of Heaven, in favour of the Christian institution, that can pos. sibly be imagined or conceived.---The power and veracity of God himself were at stake in this cause; 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 wickedest men in the world have taken the greatest pains, and endured the greatest hardihip and misery, to invent, practise, and propagate the most holy religion that ever was: And not unly the Apostles and first preachers of the gospel, but whole nations of men, and all sorts of men, Chri. ftian, Jeru, and Pagan, were (no body can imagine how or why) confederated to propagate a known cheat against their own honour, interest, and safe. ty; 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, elle
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 for.
mer 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,
LETTER V. Wherein some of the in
ternal Evidences of Christianity are considered.
I shall use the greatest freedom in my an. swer ; and, laying aside all reserves, shall presume on your candour.
You “ cannot see (you tell me) how these argu. ments of mine, for the truth of Christianity,
cannot admit of a rational and consistent answer." How thert can you be but "almost persuaded to be a Christian ?” How can you want some
gene. " ral and easy directions how to get rid of those “ doubts which ftill 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 mo. ral : And at this rate you may call into question your own being, and all your rational powers, as well as every thing you fee, hear, or feel. For, I
dare say, there are difficulties enough in any or all of thele, to puzzle the most fagacious 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 me. thod to do it or not. You should likewise consi. der, that it is of no importance to the safety of your low, whether you are or are not capable to obviate all the objections 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 me. thod in the case before you, First, fee to your foundation, examine thoroughly, seriously, and imparti. ally, whether the evidence for the truth of Chriftianity 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, left 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 Christi. anity are able to throw in your way. The cause will bear the strictest scrutiny, the severelt 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 stedfast 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 lefsen 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 fee 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 efta. blished in the faith ; but comply with it, and it is impossible that hell and earth can finally subvert your faith, and separate between Christ and your foul.-By this means, this great affair will be no longer with you a matter of mere speculation, or empty opinion, but convincing experience ; and nothing but your imperfections and temptations can ever make you hesitate about the truth of those things, which you sensibly and continually feel the influence of upon all the powers and faculties of your mind.-By this you will have the witness in yourself, a transcript of the gospel upon your heart; such a transcript as will anlwer to the original, like as the impress upon the wax to the signet ; or as a well drawn picture to the lineaments of the face from whence it was taken.-By this, have multitudes of fouls been established in the faith, who have never been able critically to examine the external evidence upon which Christianity is founded. -They have not been able to dispute for Christ; but they have dared to die for him.—They have found the image of God imprinted on their souls, by the gospel of God our Saviour ; and therefore could not doubt the power of that cause, which had