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anxiety, and prayer; but it is highly improbable that men fhould, without any intervening cause, become on a fudden enthusiasts on points they had never thought on before-much more in favour of opinions, against which they had been violently prejudiced, from the first dawn of reason, by habit, inftruction, religion and example; yet fuch opinions the Jews must have embraced before they could have admitted the crucified Jefus for the Meffiah, whom the prophets had foretold it is, I contend for it, very incredible that blind enthusiasm could have any weight in this cafe, except against the reception of fuch opinions. The warm and bigotted Jew would instantly reject, and, I may fay, enthusiastically oppofe them. The only procefs by which he could be induced to admit the truth of the gofpel, was the most sober, deliberate, and argumentative, which can be imagined; requiring an accurate examination of the prophetic writings, and a close comparison of their contents, with the character and history of our bleffed Lord.
The questions which muft arise on fuch an enquiry, were furely fuch as are most remote from the influence of fanatic delufion. Whether Jefus Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, in the town of Bethlehem ?-whether his character and doctrines were clearly delineated, his crucifixion and refurrection foretold in the prophecies whether it was a misinterpretation of these
facred writers, to expect on their authority a temporal Meffiah. These questions, and a variety of others fuch as these, muft immediately prefent themselves on the first appeal to the argument from prophecy, and to decide them in favour of Chriftianity, required a patient attention, and a fobriety of mind, which were utterly repugnant to the very nature of enthusiasm.
Suitably to these principles, we find in the history of the first progrefs of the gospel, that those, and those only, who would listen to reafoning, who impartially and carefully examined the fcriptures, were influenced by the apostle's appeal to them.— When at Antioch, in Pifidia, Paul in the fynagogue, after the reading the law and the prophets, ftood up to explain what had been read; his difcourfe exhibits a view of the entire Jewish history, and critical explanations of fome paffages of fcripture, as remote from the wildness of enthusiasm, as can be conceived. The Jews on that day listened with attention, and many of them, as well as of the religious profelytes, d followed the apoftles, who fpeaking to them, perfuaded them to continue in the grace of God. But when the Gentiles wished to hear the fame arguments, and when on the next fabbath-day almost the whole city affembled together to hear the word of the preachers, the bigotry of the Jews would no
• Acts xiii. 14.
d Acts xiii. 43.
longer bear the eagernefs of their intrufion, "fee❝ing the multitudes they were filled with envy, and
fpeak against those things which were spoken by “Paul, contradicting and blafpheming," and by their oppofition raised fuch perfecution against the apostles, as compelled them to fave their lives by flight; nor was this fury appeafed even by their flight, for they purfued the apostle to Iconium and Lyftra, till they had, as they hoped, inflicted that vengeance which their enraged bigotry required; for at Lyftra they "perfuaded the people, and . having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, "supposing he had been dead.”
The characters of enthusiasm are precipitation and violence; these uniformly contributed not to forward, but to oppose the fuccefs of the first preachers of Christianity.
If the Jews at Berea were influenced by the reafoning of the apostles, "fo that many of them believed, alfo of honourable women that were Greeks, "and of men not a few,"-it was because they not only "received the word with all readiness of mind,' but fearched the fcriptures daily, whether these things were fo.
In truth it seems to me difficult in the extreme, to peruse the epiftles to the Hebrews, the Romans, and
• Acts xiii. 45.
f Acts xiv. 19.
8 Acts xvii. 10. the
the Galatians, in all which this argument from the prophecies, and the general scope of the Jewifh difpenfation is largely applied, to confirm and illustrate the gofpel, without observing a clearness of thought, an extent of information, and a sobriety of intellect, utterly repugnant to the character of enthufiafm. The ignorant and fuperficial may deride, because they do not understand fuch reasoning; but the serious and fober enquirer will trace its coherence, and admire its strength.
Admitting the truth of these principles, we cannot wonder at the confidence with which St. Paul urged this topic of argument, before King Agrippa, whom he knew to be poffeffed of information which qualified him to judge of its force." I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this c day before thee, especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently." This is furely not the language of a deluded and wild vifionary.-No-fuch men appeal to the tribunal of ignorance alone, and rely for fuccefs on the folly and the precipitance of their hearers. Not fo the apostle, his was the cause of truth and foberness; he rejoiced to appeal to an enlightened and rational. judge." I continue, fays he, unto this day witneffing both to small and great, faying none other
h A&s xxvi. the whole chapter.
things than those which the prophets and Mofes "did fay fhould come; that Christ should suffer, "and that he fhould be the firft that should rife from the dead, and fhould fhew light unto the
people and the Gentiles." When the ignorance of the Roman governor led him to exclaim, " Paul, "too much learning hath made thee mad." How calm and rational the reply !" I am not mad, most "noble Feftus, but fpeak the words of truth and "foberness; for the king knoweth of these things, "before whom I also speak freely, for I am per"fuaded none of these things are hid from him, "for this thing was not done in a corner. King
Agrippa believeft thou the prophets? I know that "thou believeft."-Does the king's reply disavow either the notoriety of the facts thus attested, or the validity of the argument from prophecy?" Almoft,
faid Agrippa, thou perfuadeft me to be a Chriftian." More he could not have admitted without becoming wholly a Christian; and this was morally impoffible, that a proud and voluptuous Jewish monarch fhould, at the hazard of his crown, embrace the faith of an, upftart, a despised and hated fect, the founder of which had been crucified, and the chief preacher of which appeared before him a prisoner, loaded with chains and obloquy; this could not be without fome fupernatural change, violently and irresistibly overpowering every feeling of his foul, and fubverting his whole moral character, and we never find miracles employed to work such a change as this. But