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THE UNLEARNED CHRISTIAN'S REASON OF
1 PETER iii. 15.
“ Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in
The hope that is in Christians is this :—that their corruptible body shall put on incorruption, and that their sins being all forgiven, they shall be admitted into the enjoyment of eternal life, through the merits and mediation of Christ their Master.
A glorious hope no doubt it is : but whether or no it be a well-grounded hope, depends, of
course, on this : namely, whether or no the
gospel be true which declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind. All Christians profess to believe that it is true, and that Christ is able to save unto the uttermost all such as come unto God by him. But it would very often be inquired in the apostles' times, and the question may still be asked, Why do you
believe this? What reason have you for being so confident of the truth of your religion ? To this question, according to St. Peter, every believer ought to be able to give an answer. “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
I. I will consider one or two of the different sorts of answers which may be given to this inquiry.
II. And then endeavour to show you which of them it is most for your own comfort to have ready, and to be able to give on all fit occasions.
I. The truth of Christ's religion hath been proved again and again, to the silencing of gainsayers, by a variety of arguments. I am not going formally to state these arguments at present; but I will only mention one or two of the principal ones, for the sake of making a comparison between them.
One sort of argument is taken from what is called external evidence.
If the facts recorded in the gospel be true, then, it is argued, the religion must be true. If it can be proved, for instance, that Jesus Christ did really rise from the dead, that he did really work those miracles which Holy Scripture ascribes to Him, and did confer upon his apostles a power to do the like; then it must be admitted that he really was what he pretended to be, seeing no man could have done those mighty works if God had not been with him, and God could not have set his seal to a falsehood.
Accordingly, pious and learned men have written books in which they have shown, in a very satisfactory and unanswerable manner, that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and did work these miracles : and thus we have one sufficient proof of the truth of our religion, and one sufficient answer, which may be given unto any one who shall say, why do you trust that Christ is able to save you from sin and death? “We know,” it may be replied,
" that our Lord confirmed his doctrine, by healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, doing such works as God alone can do; therefore, we cannot but believe in him for his work's sake.”
Another argument of a similar kind may be taken from prophecy.
If it can be proved, as very easily it may, that many hundred years before our Lord's birth,