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priests, he carried on the persecution against them, by putting to death one Apostle, and imprisoning another, whom he intended also to slay.

This wonderful success of the gospel in its native country must tend greatly to convince us of its divinity. For if the things therein told had been false, would such numbers upon the spot where they were said to be done and at the very time at which they happened have given such credit to them, as on their account to have exposed themselves to the most grievous persecution.

But the success of the gospel was by no means confined to Judea. Being preached in all the different provinces of the Roman empire, numbers of heathens as well as Jews were converted to the faith. A clear proof that the Christian system was not a fabrication by the Jews, invented with a design to raise their nation to its pristine grandeur, but contained such evidence of its divine origin as failed not to make an impression on those to whom it was proposed, of whatever nation or tongue. The conversion of the gentiles is so much the more remarkable that almost the very first triumph of the Christian religion

were in Greece itself, the seat of learning and the polite arts. We learn from the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul's Epistles, that churches were very early planted in most of its principal cities. Even-all-conquering Rome, the seat of wealth and empire, was herself conquered by the force of truth. Many of her inhabitants embraced the Christian faith, as early as in the reigns of Claudius and Nero ; and but a few years after the crucifixion of our Lord, when the matters told concerning him were recent, and it was easy to have disproved them, if they had been false, by many witnesses from Judea, both Jews and Gentiles, who continually resorted to Rome, either for business or pleasure, and by the constant communication which subsisted between the capital, and all the provinces of the empire.

This leads me to observe that the remarkable success of the gospel did not happen in a dark age or among a rude people, but in an age justly celebrated for the height to which learning and the polite arts were carried ; and among the Greeks and Romans, the renowned masters of the sciences. In most countries, at this era, knowledge was more widely diffused

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VOL. I.

and society more civilized than they had been at any former period. Besides, the world under the protection of the Roman government enjoying at this time profound peace, men of a speculative turn were every were at leisure to examine the matter with care, and as the different nations of the world were now united under one head, they had easy communication with one another and with the city of Rome, the centre of intelligence and correspondence. It is therefore undeniable, that, when the gospel was first proposed, all ranks of men in all countries were as well secured as possible from being imposed upon by false pretences of any kind, and the gospel would not probably be adopted before it was duly considered. It must indeed be confessed that the first

proseļytes to Christianity were not in general the most enlightened and inquisitive of their age, but, on the contrary, mean, simple men who had more veracity and integrity than understanding, who were more ingenuous than learned. This circumstance, though at first it may seem dishonourable to the Christian cause, will, upon mature reflection, add greatly to the evidence of its truth. Jesus himself rejoiced in it, and

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more than once solemnly returned thanks for it. “ At that time Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and “ said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven " and earth, that thou hast hid these things "' from the wise and prudent and revealed “ them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it “ seemed good in thy sight.” The Apostle Paul gloried in the mean condition of the first converts. “ You see your calling, brethren, “ said he, how that not many wise men after " the Aesh are called. But God has chosen “ the foolish things of this world to confound “ the wise, and God has chosen the weak “ things of the world to confound the things “ which are mighty; and base things of the “ world and things which are despised hath “ God chosen, yea and things which are not “ to bring to nought things which are ; that “ no flesh should glory in his presence.” Our Lord and his Apostles thus rejoice in the conversion of the people, because they know this circumstance above all others would

prove the truth of their doctrine. The prejudices and attachment of mankind to old, opinions have always been found to hear a proportion to their ignorance. The bulk of mankind are every where incapable of comprehending a

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train of reasoning, and cannot easily be per: suaded to change the principles in which they have been educated even by the most conclu: sive arguments. Since, therefore, such num: bers were converted to Christianity, it could not have been by, artful reasoning, but by some striking miracles which made a deep impression on their senses; and by a power much more irresistible than that of cool argument, surmounted all the obstacles which superstition, custom and education had thrown in the way of their conversion. The same circumstance is a clear proof that men were not compelled to adopt the religion of Jesus, by the secular power; were not seduced by the influ

; ence and example of the great; were not encouraged by any prospect of profit or honour to enter into a society the greater part of whose members were poor ignorant men, less likely to be of advantage to those who might adhere to them than to bring them into trouble and disgrace. “ Is not this the Carpenter's son ?" did they impiously say of the Saviour himself: " are not these of the sect of the Naza“ renes?" did they contemptuously ask concerning his followers. And most certainly no man would expose himself to the reproach

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