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render him fit for a better state of enjoyment; to enable him to grow in grace here, and to arrive at perfection of goodness and happiness hereafter, are the ultimate objects of all that revelation promises; and this design is confistent with our best conceptions of infinite wisdom and infinite goodness. In promoting these it displays the care of the supreme Being for his creatures. It displays an interest antecedent to creation, and exerted without intermission from age to age. To this grand design a series of extraordinary events uniformly contributes. Nothing, however minute, is in reality of small importance'; nothing is irregular or discordant. With this view the system of the world was framed. Heaven is interested. God the Father sacrifices his only and beloved Son: God the Son becomes the voluntary fax crifice; and the Spirit of God fanctifies the whole. Time is employed in the completion of the scheme, and eternity is to supply exhaustless mercies. To this all the transactions of the world evidently contribute, and to this end they uniformly concur. Prophecy prediets, and events realize the prediction. The powers of this world are unconsciously or even reluctantly instrumental.
Whether empires rife, or kingdoms fall; whether the just suffer,
or the wicked triumph ; whether saints are martyred, or infidels perfecute; still the kingdom of Christ is advancing. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it, and even death itself is swallowed up in victory. Yet here ungrateful and sullen Infidelity offers its objections.Why did God permit man to fall ? Why not preserve him by a superintendent coercion? Is not this a counteraction of the first designThe answer must be, that it is impossible for finite reason to comprehend how far omniscience, and omnipotence may concur; how far omnipotence may choose to become fubject to contingencies. But we ought to acknowledge the mercy proposed, and cheerfully to accept it, because it comes to us with all the marks of consistent analogy. We might with equal reason object to the use of food, because we know not exactly how it operates in the system to afford nutriment. We might also refrain from it on the same ground, because God has not so created us as to exist without the necessity of this perpetual renovation. In the production of these great events we fee the apparatus splendid, and the more subordinate parts consistent : all like the works of
all analogous to his operations in nature. Is there any system of religion in which the
design is so uniformly progressive, and the events so admirably effective ? In comparison of this, how mean are the pretensions of the Arabian prophet ! the superstition of the Hindoo! the absurdities of the polytheism of Greece and of Rome! Indeed all are too mean to be put in competition.
If we' attend to the threats and rewards which the Christian religion proposes, we find that they are merely conditional. It presses none into its service who are not voluntary disciples. It is not a plan of coercion, but of co-operation. For God only worketh together with those who themselves work. All is left to the determination and the conduct of the will. It proclaims no necessity but a freedom of action, and calls us to the glorious liberty of the fons of God. It speaks of this life as a state of trial; and while we are exhorted to resist temptation, we are taught to expect it. We are to experience wars without, and fightings within. All this supposes us not exempt from the sufferings of other men, but we are even exposed to greater trials. The divine grace is to be our aid, and the holy Spirit our comforter ; but though the assistance is supernatural, its action is gentle, and perceptible only in its effects. We are told, that we must
act as ordinary men, and engage as such in the general system of life. If Christians therefore prove
better than other men, it must proceed from their own application of the grace bestowed by Heaven. It is indeed reasonably to be expected that men will act as men, because all this is foretold, and against all this are we not frequently forewarned? The world and its interests are powerful ; and though God could force men into virtue, that would be to destroy its merit. And as the motives of Christianity are not coercive, and its operation on the mind gentle, its progress must be i expected to be gradual.
Having considered some of the principal characteristics of the Christian religion, let us now proceed to its internal evidences. Of the superiority of the writings of the Old Testament in their sublime representations of the Deity, and the moral state of man, we have treated. We must now proceed to consider the confiftence and the internal eviderice of the writings included in what is called the New Testament, in which we shall perceive the same wonderful accordance and superiority.
Whoever attentively and impartially perufes them, must observe the most decisive marks of internal authenticity. This character, though
obvious in the books of the Old Testament, is more peculiarly so in those of the New. By authenticity here I mean, not only the genuine signs of the style of the writers, but that evident character, that colour and testimony of truth, which always carries with it a commanding and irresistible authority : all this too, corroborated by circumstances both external and collateral. Of the external proofs of the authenticity of the holy Scriptures it does not fall within my province to treat. This subject has received the most ample and satisfactory testimony from many able writers. There is no history which affords such impressive demonstration, while the more important and subordinate parts contribute to general support and confirmation. In considering the consiste ency of the sacred Scriptures, an appeal must be made to the candid mind. To fuch, a few instances of apparent discordance will not be a formidable objection, even if found in the books of the Evangelists. These have been again and again rectified by competent defenders. And should their attempts at reconciliation not appear in every instance altoge-, ther satisfactory, yet these variations in the narrative, which may thus seem not fully adjusted, though the greater part are clearly ex-;