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CHAP. I. -Evidence of the sufferings of the first
Chap. I.- Prophecy
HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND
JAMES YORK, D.D.
LORD BISHOP OF ELY,
WHEN, five years ago, an important station in the University of Cambridge awaited your Lordship's disposal, you were pleased to offer it to me. The cir. cumstances under which this offer was made, demand a public acknowledgment. I had never seen your Lord. ship; I possessed no connexion wh could possibly recommend me to your favour; I was known to you, only by my endeavours, in common with many others, to discharge my duty as a tutor in the University; and by some very imperfect, but certainly well-intended, and, as you thought, useful publications since. In an age by no means wanting in examples of honourable patronage, although this deserve not to be mentioned in respect of the object of your Lordship's choice, it is inferior to none in the purity and disinterestedness of the motives which suggested it.
How the following work may be received, I pretend not to foretel. My first prayer concerning it is, that it may do good to any ; my second hope, that it may assist, what it hath always been my earnest wish to promote, the religious part of an academical education. If in this latter view it might seem, in any degree, to excuse your Lordship's. judgment of its author, I shall be gratified by the reflection, that, to a kindness flowing from public principles, I have made the best public return in my power,
In the mean time, and in every event, I rejoice in the opportunity here afforded me, of testifying the sense I entertain of your Lordship's conduct, and of a notice which I regard as the most flattering distinction of my life.
I am, MY LORD,
Your Lordship's faithful.
EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.
PREPARATORY CONSIDERATIONS. I DEEM it unnecessary to prove, that mankind stood in need of a revelation, because I have met with no serious person who thinks that, even under the Christian revela. tion, we have too much light, or any degree of assurance, whieh is superfluous. I desire, moreover, that in judging of Christianity, it may be remembered, that the question lies between this religion and none : for if the Christian religion be not credible, no one, with whom we have to do, will support the pretensions of any other.
Suppose, then, the world we live in to have had a Creator; suppose it to appear, from the predominant aim and tendency of the provisions and contrivances observable in the universe, that the Deity, when he formed it, consulted for the happiness of his sensitive creation ; suppose the disposition which dictated this counsel to continue ; suppose a part of the creation to have received faculties from their Maker, by which they are capable of rendering a moral obedience to his will, and of voluntarily pursuing any end for which he has designed them; suppose the Creator to intend for these, his rational and accountable
agents, a second state of existence, in which their situa• tion will be regulated by their behaviour in the first state,
by which supposition (and by no other) the objection to the divine government in not putting a difference between the good and the bad, and therinconsistency of this confusion with the care and benevolence discoverable in the works of the Deity, is done away ; suppose it to be of the utmost importance to the subjects of this dispensation to know what is intended for them; that is, suppose the knowledge of it to be highly conducive to the happiness of the species, a purpose which so many provisions of nature are calculated to promote; suppose, nevertheless, almost the whole race, either by the imperfection of their faculties, the misfortune of their situation, or by the loss