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youthful heart. The youthful intellect should be habitually disciplined to the comprehension of these principles in their several relations, as it is disciplined to the attainment of science. To assist in a labour so necessary for the futurewell being of our country, independent of its effects on individual happiness, the editor of the following work is induced to present it to the public. The main portion of it is from the well known press of Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, to whom we are under the greatest obligation for a series of works, in the form here assumed, on education. Indeed, it might seem that this Compend on the Evidences of Christianity should ever be a companion for the Conversations on Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Political Economy, and Botany; and, even for elementary works generally on literature and science. It is, however to depend on parents and teachers to say whether it shall become thus useful in rearing up the coming generation.
The form of Conversations, under which the subject is here presented, is not that which the author regards as the best which could be adopted, neither is the proof developed to that extent which it would bear; and in many other particulars connected with the subject, additions of greater or less importance might with propriety, have been made, had the present work been intended as a complete and systematic view of all that could be adduced in behalf of Christianity. The object,
however, of the author was to be read by those who cannot or will not read the works of abler men. That form, therefore, was adopted which experience has shown most likely to succeed, and the argument developed to that extent only which the limits of a small and elementary work permitted.
Boston, August 14, 1832.
'EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY
Maria. My brother and myself have a favour to request of you, my dear father, ch we hope you will not deny us, though we have some hesitation in asking it.
Mr. B. The sooner I hear it, the better. You may be sure, that nothing short of necessity will occasion a refusal.
Edward. Our hopes and fears alike arise from the nature of our petition. We are very desirous of learning from you, in conversation, the evidences for the Christian religion.
Mr. B. This is, indeed, more than I expected; and I might answer, that, like yourselves, I am influenced in two ways; the importance of the subject putting it out of my power to refuse, at the same time that it makes me hesitate in acceding to your wishes.
Maria. We feel grateful for the first part of your answer, which the second only teaches us to value more.
Edward. We are, indeed, aware, that it is no slight task we impose upon you, my dear father; but we have long been anxious upon the subject, on that account.
Mr. B. You have, then, considered the subject, in
1 What request does Edward make to his father?-2 In What two ways is Mr. B. influenced in relation to this request ?-3 What question does he ask Edward and Maria, as to their understanding the subject?
some measure, already; but do you think will more clearly understand it in consequence of conversations upon it?
Maria. We hope so. In conversations, indeed, between ourselves, we have rather puzzled ourselves than otherwise, which, perhaps, was the necessary consequence of our attempting to argue upon a subject of which we know a little, and only a little.
Mr. B. Not improbable. But what is the sum of your present knowledge?
Maria. My brother knows more than I do; but he has only a kind of general and vague idea arising from books, which he has looked at, rather than examined, and of which he has no distinct recollection, owing to his having given himself up, of late, so exclusively to other studies. For myself, I can say very little; indeed, I am almost ashamed to say, that I believe in the truth of the Christian religion, because I feel I cannot do otherwise than believe-yet that is the fact.
Mr. B. Can you not, in some measure, ascertain the grounds of your faith?
Maria. Perhaps I might, by hard thinking; but as I would much rather be able to "give to every one that asketh me a reason of the hope that is in me," -an answer founded on rational principles-you, would, indeed, render me an essential service, by pointing out the particulars wherein the real strength of the arguments, in favour of Christianity, consist.
Edward. And not less so to me; for I find the little knowledge of the subject I at present possess wholly insufficient to satisfy my mind in many points. We both feel inclined to think, that Christianity must be true, but are perplexed by the circumstance of its truth being yet disputed, and know not well how to reconcile our minds to the fact, that many have rejected it. It is also very distressing, when one accidentally meets with persons
4 What knowledge of it does Maria say that Edward already has ?-5 What does she know of it herself?-6 In what manner does she prefer to give the grounds of her faith -7 With what does Edward say, that he and his sister are perplexed ?
of a sceptical turn, to be forced to bear the sarcasms they throw out, or the ridicule which they cast upon religion, and feel that we have no right to reply, from ignorance of the subject.
Maria. And even in reading books, we do not escape a painful sense of inferiority, as well as indignation, in meeting with passages, that seem to strike at what we have been accustomed to reverence, but of which we cannot, immediately, see the falsity.
Mr. B. I believe many persons, as well as myself, could fully enter into your feelings; and if I can, in any measure, enable you to build your faith upon a firm foundation, my labour will be abundantly repaid: but, do you think you will derive greater advantage from conversations on the subject, than by reading some good
Maria. I shall feel more interested in conversations, than in the continued arguments of a theological disquisition. I fear, I have not sufficient strength of mind to examine the truth of the assertions of a learned divine, page by page. As Pope said to Atterbury, I always find the last author convince me.
Edward. On the contrary, I feel myself generally so much inclined to spend too much time in balancing probabilities, making nice distinctions, and examining all conceivable objections, that, in many cases, I quite lose the thread of the discourse, and forget the real force of the principal argument.
Mr. B. It is well for you, that you have found out these tendencies to error in your minds.
Maria. Most probably we should not, had we not conversed together on the subject, when we found we differed so widely in opinion on many points, that we were led the more closely to examine ourselves, and each readily detected the faults of the other.
8 On what account does she say, that they experience a feeling of pain, when reflecting on the subject ?-9 What question does Mr. B. ask, as to the conversational form of discussion ?-10 What reply to it does Maria make?-11 What reply to it does Edward make?-12 In what manner does Maria say, that she has learnt her own liabilities to error?