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THE EVIDENCE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST.
St. MATTHEW XI. 2, 3. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ?”
We are about to celebrate in a few days, the anniversary of the birth of Him, in whom we trust for our redemption ; and our church has wisely selected that passage of Scripture which we read in the Gospel this morning, * to form one subject of our meditations at this season. It is a passage which reminds us of the convincing evidence which we have of the truth of our
* Third Sunday in Advent.
religion, and I wish therefore to take this
opportunity of addressing a few remarks to you on that subject.
My brethren, I sincerely hope there is not one individual among you, who has been infected with those miserable principles, which (to the disgraceofthis nation) have been very industriously propagated within these few years ; I hope none of you have given heed to those seducing spirits and doctrines of Devils,” which would persuade men that the Gospel is only a “cunningly devised fable,” and so deprive us wretched mortals of the only hope and consolation which can cheer our way, while travelling through this “ valley of the shadow of death.” I have always considered, that there are none more wicked upon earth, than those who endeavour to persuade others, that there is no God, and no Saviour; it is a sin that displays extreme hardness of heart, and cruelty of disposition; it is like robbing a poor man of his last shilling; for take from me my religion, and you take from me all that is really worth possessing; you take that, without which I would gladly exchange my condition for that of the meanest reptile that crawls upon the earth. What is left us, my brethren, if we are plundered of our hope of immortality? Nothing but a miserable life, with the expectation of soon falling into eternalsleep. Who would wish to live, if this were all our portion? why should men toil, day after day, without rest, for meat and drink and clothing? why should they torment themselves with cares and anxieties? why should they endure the diseases and pains which afflict their bodies? there is nothing in the world worth living for, if there be no truth in religion, and he is a bitter enemy, who would take from us that single anchor of our hope. I do not fear I shall be thought uncharitable in using the strongest terms of reprobation on such a subject; we ought to be indignant when attempts are made to remove the only props by which we are supported; to rob us of our dependance upon God, of our trust in the mercies of redemption, and of our prospects of everlasting happiness in heaven; there is no excuse, or apology whatsoever, for such attempts; let a man take my purse, it is but a trifle, and he may plead his poverty, and say it will save him and his family from starvation; but if he takes my religion, he does not enrich himself thereby, but leaves me poor indeed, he makes me miserable, without the pretence of increasing his own happiness.
Most sincerely therefore do I hope, as I have already said, that none of you have been contaminated by those wicked and unhappy
doctrines, which would deprive you of your only hope in life, your only comfort in distress, your only consolation at the hour of death. But there is no corner of the earth so remote, where the enemy of God and man will not endeavour to ruin souls by all the means in his power.
I would have you therefore be armed at all points to resist him, if he should assail you ; armed with “the breast-plate of righteousness,” that he may never be able to pierce your hearts; with “ the shield of faith," that you may be able “ to quench all the fiery darts” which he levels at your reason; and with “the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,” that you may be able, when attacked, to return the blow with effect.
It is with this view, that I wish to remind you, on the present occasion, of some of the arguments for the truth of our holy religion ; you ought to be able “to give an answer to every one that asketh you for a reason of the hope that is in you;" you ought not to say you are Christians, merely because your neighbours are; you ought to know something of the grounds whereon you believe that Jesus Christ " was of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” Those active apostles of infidelity would never have made so many disciples, had men in general been better instructed in the irresistible proofs, by which our religion is supported; men, who do not know why they believe, may very easily be overcome, when any one endeavours to prove to them that their belief is without foundation ; and thus, merely for the want of a little knowledge, which is easily obtained and remembered, they may be led astray from God, and prevailed on to give up their hope of salvation. I shall therefore proceed to lay before you, in as plain and simple form as possible, some of the most striking evidences of the divine origin of that Gospel, the doctrines of which are our only confidence and support amid the trials and miseries of this sinful world.
You recollect the answer which our blessed Lord returned to the two disciples, whom John the Baptist sent to ask of him the question contained in my text, “ art thou he that should come, or do we look for another." He did not say simply, “I am that person, the promised Messiah,” because that would not have satisfied any one who had doubts; for the vilest impostor never hesitates to assert that he is what he
pretends to be. He answered therefore by producing a plain proof that he was the Christ, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see, the blind receive their sight, and the