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I leave it to such approvers of our Lord's character, to explain, how nature and truth can act the part of deceit-how a pure, sincere, and pious mind, can have récourse to a falsehood, for the honour of God. Suffice it to say, that the opposition of the unbeliever is inconsistent with his concessions. Out of his own mouth, his enmity to Jesus and the gospel is condemned. If, as according to his own showing, independently of any divine authority, the character of Jesus be so good, -and if the gospel have such beneficial tendencies --why does he not, as a friend to his fellowmen, as a moral agent in God's creation, and, therefore, bound to advance the improvement and happiness of all the rational creatures of God recommend the example and doctrine of Jesus both by precept and practice ?
Christianity enjoins no unnatural mortification --Addresses itself -to man's reason, and points out to him his duty to God, to himself, and to his fellow-creatures.—The character of Jesus and the Apostles suitable to the doctrines they taught.-Imposture and eminent virtue incompatible. Of the system of Numa.-Of Mahomet. - Manifestly unjust and absard to compare these men and their systems with Jesus and Christianity. Of the first preachers of Christianity.–Of the character of Peter. Of the Apostle John.-Of Paul.—The conversion of Paul an illustrious proof of the divivity of Christianity.- Testimony of unbelievers to the character of Paul. Charges against Paul incompatible with this testimony..-Christian precepts adapted to the cir cumstances of human nature.Christian religion calculated to be a universal religiop.-Of the language and style of the authors of the Christian books. Of their candour and impartiality.
If Christianity inculcated mortification where the Divine Being had invited to rational enjoyment-if it exhorted us to abstain from any of the innocent pleasures which are agreeable to' our nature, and conducive to our comfort and happiness in our passage through this transitory life, we might reasonably suspect that the origin of.
Christianity was not divine; that its laws were only so many arbitrary infractions of human liberty; that its restraints were injurious, and its promises delusive :--yes, in such a case, it were well to discard, as fabulous and untrue, a system manifestly opposed to human well-being, and, consequently, to the gracious purposes of the Author of our nature. But no charge of this kind can be justly brought against Christianity. It does not lead to gloomy mortification, but to rational enjoyment; is teaches men to use, and not abuse, the blessings of God. It does not deny men pleasure, but it exhorts them to act throughout life, so as to have the best enjoyment of life upon the whole. . It exhorts men to live as men, and to abstain from those excesses which sink them to the level of the brute. In all its precepts, it aims at the disciplining and instructing of the rational nature, by setting before us our duty to God, to ourselves, and to our fellow-men. The character of the Founder of Christianity, as well as that of the men whom he sent into the world to 'preach the gospel to every creature, was suitable to the doctrines they taught. If Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,' it was not because he was of a gloomy and forbidding dis
position--for there are innumerable traits in his .. character exhibiting a quite contrary tempera
ment-but it was because he was opposed, and . reviled, and shamefully treated. If his Apostles lived lives of weariness and painfulness-in watchings often-in hunger and thirst-in fastings often -in cold and nakedness,-it was not that they
preferred this kind of life, or refused the innocent gratifications of their nature,—but because their fellow-men, the persecutors of their day, inflicted upon them stripes, and imprisonments, and wrongs. Mere misanthropists, and mysticks, could not have
published such commands as these-Charge them - that are rich in this world, that they be not high* minded, nor trust in uncertain riches--but in the - living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy:'--Charge them that are rich in this world,
that they do good—that they, be rich in good works; that they be ready to distribute--willing to communicate-laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.' Mere narrowminded bigots, in recounting the duties of a chief officer of the church of Christ, could not have set forth, as one of his leading characteristics, that he be a lover of hospitality. Mere superstitious devotees could not thús have spoken of the blessrings of life-every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused; if it be received with thanksgiving. Men with hearts insensible to the grace and beauty of life, would not have spoken of the future life of the righteous in terms like these,-Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'
These precepts, feelings, hopes and exulting anticipations bespeak minds alive to the real blessings of existence; they were the first fruits, as, it were, of a system which is profitable for doc. trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; whereby the rational creatures of God may become perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Therefore it cannot be said that Christianity or its inspired teachers encourage
practices, dispositions, or views, tending in any . way to interfere with human welfare and happiness; but, on the contrary, its design and tendency, evidently, are, to lead man to the true enjoyment of existence, to draw forth the excellences of his nature, to promote his best interests in the life that now is, and to prepare him for entering, with honour, into that which is to come. And these facts do by themselves afford a strong presumption of the divinity of Christianity. . .
To prove the justice of these remarks, I confine not myself to the testimony of the Christian : I appeal to the unbeliever. The life of Jesus, says he was a beautiful picture of human nature, when in its native purity and simplicity; and showed at once what excellent creatures men would be when under the influence and power of that gospel he preached to them.'* Voltaire, in endeavouring to account upon natural principles, for the success of Christianity, is obliged to presume that the disciples were attached to the person and virtues of Jesus, and that they preached bis doctrines with firmness. If men are known by the systems they support-by their friendships by the character of those with whom they associate,