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in the ranks of those who have firmly believed, and ably asserted, the truth of the great event which forms the basis of our holy religion, we shall not, surely, have reason to doubt that the subject has been closely, fully, and impartially investigated. We are not, indeed, obliged to believe whatsoever comes recommended to us from men of the greatest talent; but, that which wise and good men duly examine, and honestly believe, has, at least, a strong claim upon our respect and attention.
I pass on, briefly, to observe, that there is, in the scriptural account of the incidents connected with the resurrection, all that beautiful simplicity of relation, which is a sure mark of truth. Look, for instance, at that highly natural and interesting account of the interview between Mary Magdalene and our Lord in the garden of the tomb. Consider the surprise of the unbelieving Thomas: the conversation of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: the natural and truthful account of the first interview between Jesus and bis disciples, when they believed not for joy and wondered:' the affectionate earnestness of Peter, on the shores of the sea of Tiberias, Lord, thou knowest all things-thou knowest that I love thee.' Look at these artless narratives, and say if they wear the garb of deception and the marks of fraudulent invention?
Once more; if, as the unbeliever asserts, the history of the resurrection be a fable, how shall we satisfactorily explain the devotedness of the Apostles and primitive Christians? Or if we
suppose it possible, that these latter might have been the victims of so base a delusion; and that they were devoted to every species of suffering, and to death itself, for a fable; how shall we account for the constancy of the former, who must have been either the authors of the fable, or wellacquainted with its history? Did Paul leave the popular religion, and yield up friends, and worldly honour, and ease, and gain; did he endure hardships, and contumely, and want, and imprisonment, and death, for a fable? Was Peter crucified, and James stoned, and John exiled, for a fable? These questions, monstrous as it would be, must be answered in the affirmative, if the unbeliever's objections be valid. But it is utterly incredible that men should have thus exposed themselves to contumely, and suffering, and every species of evil, unless they had had the most undeniable evidence that the testimony for which they suffered was true.
I cannot but conclude, therefore, that the objections of the unbeliever, how plausible soever, are utterly insufficient to shake the faith of the Christian, and to throw discredit upon the great event which is the foundation and glory of his religion. On the contrary, when we perceive that the history of this most interesting fact presents all the internal marks of truth; when we consider the conduct of the men who gave that history to the world; when we consider that it is corroborated by more of circumstantial, yea, of positive evidence, than any other event of equal antiquity; we must be constrained to acknowledge the truth of the
Apostle Peter's declaration to the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you: him, whom ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, hath God raised up.'
Let it be our care, therefore, to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;' let not the objections of the unbeliever induce us to abandon a cause, for which the companions of Jesus, the witnesses of his miracles and death, yielded up every worldly hope and possession; for which the holy martyrs suffered the most cruel deaths; for which confessors, of both early and later times, have counted all things but loss, rejoicing in the excellency of the knowledge which Christ imparted to the world. And if, as the unbeliever asserts, we be deluded in our hope of immortality founded upon the promises of the gospel and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we are, at least, deluded in honourable company, yea, with the great and good of all times and countries. Let it be our aim, therefore, to render ourselves worthy of being numbered with these,-by our faith and piety, our virtue and integrity, our charity and zeal; let us press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and endeavour, earnestly, to attain to the resurrection of the just.'
VII. EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY.
Christianity has suffered, fully as much, from the imprudence of the professor, as from the opposition of the unbeliever.-Early adulteration of the doctrines of the gospel.--Chiefly brought about by heathen converts.-Peculiar doctrines of the heathen philosophy respecting the Godhead.-Attempts towards a reconciliation of various sects.-Rise of the doctrines of reputed orthodoxy.-Christian religion established by Constantine.-Heathen gods transformed into Christian saints.-Heathen hierarchy, with all the pomp and circumstance of the Gentile service, retained.—Imperfect reformation.-The plainer predictions of the prophets disregarded, and the most splendid figures of prophecy applied literally to Christ, in order to support the popular systems of Christianity -The Jews were accustomed to the like injudicious practice, and, consequently, erred in their views respecting the Messiah.-In both cases, the true Messiah denied.—— Unfitness of the more brilliant prophecies for adducing as evidence of the truth of Christianity.—Criteria of distinction between true and pretended prophecies.-Prophecies which certainly refer to our Lord. -Prophecies which were uttered by Jesus -Objections considered.— Destruction of Jerusalem, and dispersion of the Jews,
UNHAPPILY, the Christian cause has suffered fully as much from the imprudence of the professor, as from the opposition of the unbeliever. The former has injured it by embodying in creeds and confessions of faith, unreasonable and mysterious doctrines, and publishing them to the
world as essential parts of the religion of Jesus; and the latter has combated Christianity, chiefly, with the weapons, thus injudiciously furnished him. When we review the discourses of Christ, and find that he taught therein the absolute unity of the Divine Being-that he spake of God as the Father, and that he directed his disciples to pray to the Father: when we find that he spake of himself as the son of man—that he declared that he could do nothing of himself, and that the Father who dwelt in him did the works: when, moreover, after the ascension of their divine Master, we find the Apostles declaring, that, to us Christians, there is but one God, the Fatherwhen we perceive them addressing their prayers to the Father, in the name of his beloved Son, whom they represent as Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by the miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him: we cannot less than be surprised at the language of the popular creeds, and at the arguments of those who subscribe thereunto. We naturally ask, wherefore, since the Lord Jesus and the Apostles declared the Divine Being to be One, and addressed their prayers to him only, should Christians, of subsequent times, pay religious homage to three persons in the Godhead? Wherefore, since the Lord Jesus speaks of himself as a man and the son of man; and since the Apostles designate him 'Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God,' should those who profess to adhere to their words, address the Saviour, as God over all, blessed for evermore? Wherefore, since the scriptures say, 'in all things