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go bound in the Spirit unto Jerufalem, not knowing "the things which fhall befal me there, fave that "the Holy Ghost witneffeth in every city, faying, "that bonds and afflictions abide me; and now be"hold, I know that ye whom I have gone all among "preaching the kingdom of God, shall fee my face no more."-Now, I appeal to every candid mind, whether the tenor of this narration, and of these fentiments, is not very different from what we should naturally expect either from deceivers or fanatics? Would men who fabricated a history to gain the reputation of a prophetic character for themfelves or others, ascribe the most striking and important predictions, not to themselves, or to those whose characters they wished to exalt, but to fome other obfcure individual, who is reprefented as expressly revealing what they before had been ignorant of?Such confeffions as thefe never proceed from impoftors. On the other hand, would wild enthusiasts, wrapt in the vain dreams of a perpetually fuperintending infpiration, have thus ftrictly limited their pretenfions to prophetic light, to a few events of their lives, out of a great multitude, confeffing themselves in others totally dark and ignorant ?would they have been able to fay to the overpowering torrent of fanatic delufion-so far fhall you go, but no further? Affuredly not.-Let me add, that when the apostles deliver predictions of remote events affecting the interefts of the church in diftant ages, while they confefs themfelves ignorant of many,

which were immediately interefting to themselves; this feems exactly conformable to what we should expect from the infpiration of that wisdom which defcended from above, not to gratify their private curiofity, or to promote their perfonal advantage, but to exhibit them as the lights of the world, in whom the spirit of prophecy should bear teftimony to Jefus -a teftimony, whofe clearness fhould increase with the progress of time, and whose full fplendor fhould be reserved, to illuminate the remoteft periods of futurity.

SECTION IV.

The mode in which the apostles propofed the evidence of Christianity was free from enthufiafm.

IF from the nature of the evidence offered by the

apostles, we turn our attention to the mode in which it was propofed, we fhall be ftill more clearly convinced of the truth and fobernefs with which their inftructions were enforced. It has indeed been fometimes alledged, in order to fhew that the acceptance of Christianity was not founded on rational conviction, that its first teachers did not give their

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↳ Vid. Christianity not founded on argument, p. 39, with Doddridge's reply, letter ii. p. 10. and Dr. Randolph's Chriftian faith a rational affent, p. 180 to 195.

hearers

hearers fufficient time to examine the proofs which they advanced ;-but this is directly contradicted by the hiftory of the apoftles. In many instances, doubtless, the direct exhibition of clear and uncontrouled miracles to the fenfes of men, joined with the immediate interference of the Spirit of God, produced fuch full and inftantaneous conviction, as rendered all abstract reafoning fuperfluous and impertinent; hence three thousand of those who witnessed the miraculous effufion of the Holy Ghost at the feast of Pentecoft, were converted at once; and the fubfequent miracles of the apostles encreased the number speedily to five thousand. But the general progrefs of the gofpel, though rapid enough to evince the interpofition of divine power, was yet fufficiently deliberate and gradual, to afford full room for the exercise of calm reafon and fober enquiry, in those by whom it was embraced. At Antioch, Paul and Barnabas, for a whole " year, affembled them"felves with the church, and taught much people;" from thence they were delegated, after deliberate prayer and fafting, to preach the gofpel to the furrounding region; and when they had executed their commiffion, during an absence of confiderable length, they returned to Antioch, and abode there a long time with the difciples. At Corinth, though St. Paul had the most extenfive province of any of the apostles, yet he continued a year and fix months

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1

i Acts xi. 26.

* Ib. xiv. 28.

1 Ib. xviii. 4 and 11.

teaching

teaching the word of God, and "reasoned publicly in the fynagogue every fabbath, perfuading the Jews and Greeks."

To the inhabitants of Ephefus he appeals, "that he had not ceafed to warn them night and day "for the space of three years."-" At " Rome "Paul dwelt two years in his own hired houfe, and "received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching thofe things which 66 concern the Lord Jesus Christ."-Befides this, the apostles frequently in their circuits returned again to the fame places, and when they could not conveniently go themselves, they fent other teachers to plant the gospel, or establish it where planted; and in every city where they came, they ordained elders capable of building on the foundation they had laid, and teaching all who defired to receive inftruction. And as both our Lord and his apoftles afforded fufcient time for enquiry, they alfo adduced the evidence, which they supplied for the truth of Chriftianity, in that manner which was most natural and fimple,

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m Acts xx. 31.

• Vid. Acts xiv. 21 to 25. Ib. xv. 41.

P For thefe obfervations on the manner in which our Saviour and his apostles propofed the evidences of Christianity, and its propriety, I am indebted to Dr. Alexander Gerard, profeffor of divinity in the college of Aberdeen, who in his volume of differtations on fubjects relating to the genius and evidence of Christianity, published in London and Edinburgh, 1766, has a copious and elaborate differtation on this fubject.

n Ib. xxviii. the end.

and

and best calculated to prove its truth and reality; they proposed the evidence of their miffion in two very different fituations, to those who had not yet expreffed any prejudice against the gospel, or against the proofs of its divinity, and also to those who were actuated by strong prejudices, engaged in active oppofition, and who raised the most forcible objections they could discover: in these oppofite fituations they propofed the evidences of the gospel, in different manners, each of which was exactly proper in the circumstances under which it was employed, and each proves the truth and fobernefs which attended the promulgation of Christianity.

In addreffing those who did not raise objections against the evidences, it was their uniform method to fatisfy themselves with barely exhibiting these evidences they laboured not to prove by argumentation, that they were sufficient; they were not at pains either to prevent or remove every objection which might be started; they explained not minutely the particular manner in which each evidence fupported their miffion.

Thus our Saviour delivered the most pure and ex. cellent doctrines; but, except when driven to it by oppofition, he did not urge their excellence as a proof of their divinity, he left his hearers to feel the excellence of his religion, and conclude for themselves, that it was of divine original; it was not by means of

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