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believer more exposed to the revulsion which a state of de cayed sensibility brings on. When men of warm religious affections are thrown upon their principles, if those principles are unsupported by solid grounds of reason, and some acquaintance with the evidences of Christianity, they are apt to give way for a time, and leave the mind open to the temptations of Satan, the spiritual adversary. The rock, indeed, of the Christian faith remains firm and immovable, and the sincere believer, though shaken for a moment by the swelling surge, will regain a firm footing; yet it is important to prepare him for the storm, and assist him in making fast his position, and resisting and baffling the waves. He must be duly instructed in the foundations of his faith, and have his mind thoroughly imbued with the collective force of the Christian evidences, in order to be prepared against temptation, and preserved from the danger of apostasy.
The thoughtful Christian, however, need not fear the result of the present agitation of the public mind and the activity of unbelievers. Their spirit and morals are indications of a bad cause. The gospel of Christ has stood unmoved for eighteen centuries, and has lost none of its outward evidences, nor of its internal grace and efficacy. We need only a holy boldness to avow the hope that is in us, and give a reason of it with discretion and meekness, in order to see greater victories achieved than have ever yet been attained. The " arm of the Lord is not shortened.” Let our coldness and timidity and worldly-mindedness be renounced, and let vital Christianity be diffused, and the Christian evidences will assume their native dignity and force.
For various advantages for a defence of our faith, are afforded by the circumstances of the times.
The diffusion of education prepares for us a better informed class of hearers, gives us minds more accustomed to reflection, and capable of entering upon the consideration of a great question.
The progress also made generally in the study of the law of evidence, of the nature and bearing of testimony, of the importance of weighing numerous coincident circumstances, and observing how far they converge to a single conclusion, the habit of comparing a series of independent witnesses, and the general acknowledgment of the force of historical testimony, are all in favor of the Christian argument.
Again, the admitted necessity of following, and not prescribing to, nature; of proceeding in every investigation by slow and cautious and adequate experiments, and not by hypothesis and conjecture; of avowing and acting upon man's ignorance, except as clear phenomena lead him on—the whole system, in short, of Lord Bacon's Inductive Philosophy -prepares the mind for a similar suspension of judgment, and a similar subjection to fact and experience, on the ques-, tion of Christianity.
The revival of primitive piety and zeal which has been so widely diffused in our own country, and in different parts of Christendom, is a yet more prominent vantage-ground on which we may plant our artillery against sin and unbelief. The spirit of inquiry as to real religion, the multiplied translations of the scriptures in every tongue, the propagation and large success of the gospel in foreign missions, the reproduction of the self-same holy faith and joy and obedience in the converts from paganism now, as in the first age of Christianity, contrasted with the desolations and miseries which the progress of infidelity has uniformly produced—are all so many points in favor of "such an exposition of the evidences of our faith as may prepare, by the historical testimony, for the internal evidences of the religion of Christ.
Nor can we doubt that the blessing and grace of that Saviour, who is pleased to honor the humblest means used in his service, will be afforded to us in the course of our argument, if only we enter upon it and pursue it in a spirit of meekness and candor, and with a sincere desire to know, in order that we may do, the will of God.
For I shall take for granted in my argument the Being of a God, and those other truths of natural religion which the Deist is generally so ready to grant, and which he boasts of as all-sufficient for the guidance and happiness of mankind. I assume, therefore, throughout these lectures, the existence of one supreme and infinitely glorious Being, who is to be worshipped and obeyed by man; to whom virtue is pleasing and vice hateful; and who will reward the good and punish the wicked in a future world.
How the unbeliever came by this knowledge, what use he practically makes of it, and whether after all it be indeed sufficient for man in his present state, are other questions. I give our opponent all that he asks. I meet him upon his own ground; and what I undertake to prove is, that Chris
tianity is a revelation from God, and is of supreme obligation upon every human being.
In conducting this great argument upon these admissions of natural religion, the first question to be asked is, What is THE TEMPER OF MIND IN WHICH SUCH A SUBJECT SHOULD BE STUDIED ? and do unbelievers seem in any measure to possess that temper ? *
We may inquire, in the next place, What has been the STATE OF MANKIND IN ALL AGES AND NATIONS WHERE `CHRISTIANITY HAS BEEN UNKNOWN, and of Christian nations, in proportion as it has been inadequately known and obeyed It
We shall then go on to prove the AUTHENTICITY AND CREDIBILITY of the books of sacred scripture—that these books were really written and published at the time they profess to be, and contain a trustworthy narrative entitled to full credit and belief. I
Our books being found to be genuine and credible, we open them to see what they contain, and finding that our Lord and his apostles lay claim to a DIVINE AUTHORITY, as bringing a revelation from the great and Almighty God, we ask what credentials they produce of such a claim. This leads us to consider the undeniable and numerous MIRACLES & that were publicly wrought; the astonishing series of PROPHECIES|| 'that has been fulfilled, and is now fulfilling in the world; the first miraculous PROPAGATIONS of the gospel; and the prodigious EFFECTS ** it has produced, and is producing upon the welfare of mankind.
Having thus sufficiently established the divine authority of the scriptures, we must pause before we proceed to the internal evidence, in order to inquire whether these books are, properly speaking, inspired, so that every part of them was written under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, and is an unerring rule of faith and practice. In other words, we must show THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.tt This will conclude the first division of the whole work.
* Lecture ii.
| Lectures iv. v. and vi. § Lecture vii || Lectures viii. and ix.
| Lecture x. ** Lecture xi.
1 Lectures xii. and xiii.
We shall come next to the evidence arising from the internal excellency and efficacy of Christianity; those marks which it presents to every humble inquirer, arising from its own peculiar nature, as distinct from its outward evidences. Here we shall show that to the sincere and devout student who submits to the Christian doctrine on the footing of its undoubted credentials, there will arise the strongest confirmation of his faith from considering the sUITABLENESS* of Christianity to the obvious state and wants of man as an ig-norant and sinful creature—the excellency of all its docTRINEST-the unspotted purity of its PRECEPTSI-the inimitable character of its DIVINE FOUNDERS—and its TENDENCY|| to promote, to the highest degree, the temporal and spiritual happiness of nations and individuals.
may be asked, in the next place, whether there is any test to which the serious inquirer may bring the practical effects of Christianity in his own case-can he obtain a share in its blessings and make a trial of its promises? This is a practical and most important part of the whole subject. And we shall show that this may be done by SUBMITTING TO ITS DIRECTIONS, AND MAKING THE TRIAL FOR OURSELVESsT of its proffered grace and mercy.
A consideration of the chief OBJECTIONS** of infidels, and a comparison of their LIVES AND Deatust with those of sincere Christians, will furnish a forcible subsidiary argument in favor of our religion, and will turn the very weapons of our adversaries against themselves.
The Faithff with which the religion is to be received—the sound systEM OF INTERPRETINGSS its records which such a faith implies—and the UNIVERSAL OBLIGATION|| || which lies upon every human being of obeying this divine doctrine, will close the whole work.
Need I say, then, on concluding this introductory discourse, that if any question can be important to a reasonable and accountable creature under the moral government of an Almighty and righteous Being, (for such is the admission on which we are to proceed,) it is the investigation of the subject which I have now opened.
* Lect. xiv.
+ Lect. xv.
$ $ Lect. xxiv,
§ Lect. xvii, tt Lect. xxii. II|| Lect. xxv,
The Christian religion proposes to needy, miserable man, a hope-a solid, substantial, abiding hope—of everlasting happiness, founded on the mysterious death of the incarnate Son of God, received by faith, implanted and nourished in the heart by the sacred aid of the Holy Ghost, and producing the most holy effects in the entire life and character. Over against this hope of endless life, the Christian religion sets the unutterably woful state of the disobedient and unbelieving, who reject its proffered grace, and persist in their rebellion against God. Its sanctions stand thus, “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.” It is to infuse into you this blessed hope, and warn you to escape the opposite gulf of misery and wo, that we enter upon the present subject.
It demands, therefore, your attention. It is most momentous in its consequences.
Indifference here is madness. The alternative of neglecting, despising, disobeying this religion, is unspeakably awful. It is not a speculation which Christianity brings you; it is not a curious inquiry ; it is not an intellectual disquisition which leaves the state of men's morals and hearts and hopes where it found them. It is a question upon which an eternity of happiness or misery depends. It is a religion which inspires hope in a hopeless world, which establishes a way of pardon and peace, which reveals all the corruption of our fallen state, in order to reveal all the blessedness of the remedy for that state which is
proposed to us in the Son and Spirit of God. Christianity is not a magnificent portico, with no temple; it is not a road laboriously prepared, which leads to no city: its body of evidence is a portal which opens to the temple of the living God; its solid proofs prepare a highway which leads to heaven.
The question, therefore, as to the truth of the Christian doctrine, must be infinitely important. In expounding to you the evidences on which that truth rests, I should shrink from the responsibility of the task, if I were not persuaded that no exposition can be so incomplete as to obstruct ultimately the faith of a sincere and humble inquirer-and if I did not rely for success on the blessing of that God who has granted us