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sinfulness and loathsomeness ; for he has now a sense to discern objects of this nature ; and so sees the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding sinfulness of mankind, which before he did not see. He now sees the dreadful pollution of his heart, and the desperate depravity of his nature, in a new manner; for his soul has now a sense given it to feel the pain of such a disease ; and this shows him the truth of what the scripture reveals concerning the corruption of man's nature, his original sin, and the ruinous, undone condition man is in, and his need of a Saviour, his need of the mighty power of God to renew his heart and change his nature. Men, by seeing the true excellency of holiness, do see the glory of all those things, which both reason and scripture shew to be in the divine Being; for it has been shown, that the glory of them depends on this : And hereby they see the truth of all that the scripture declares concerning God's glorious excellency and majesty, his being the fountain of all good, the only happiness of the creature, &c. And this again shews the mind the truth of what the scripture teaches concerning the evil of sin against so glorious a God; and also the truth of what it teaches concerning sin's just desert of that dreadful punishment which it reveals ; and also concerning the impossibility of our offering any satisfaction, or sufficient atonement for that which is so infinitely evil and heinous. And this again shews the truth of what the scripture reveals concerning the necessity of a Saviour, to offer an atonement of infinite value for sin. And this sense of spiritual beauty that has been spoken of, enables the soul to see the glory of those things which the gospel reveals concerning the person of Christ ; and so enables to see the exceeding beauty and dignity of his person, appearing in what the gospel exhibits of his word, works, acts, and life : And this apprehension of the superlative dignity of his person, shews the truth of what the gospel declares concerning the value of his blood and righteousness, and so the infinite excellency of that offering he has made to God for us, and so its sufficiency to atone for our sins, and recommend us to God. And thus the Spirit of God discovers the way of salvation by Christ; thus the soul
sees, the fitness and suitableness of this way of salvation, the admirable wisdom of the contrivance, and the perfect answer. ableness of the provision that the gospel exhibits (as made for us) to our necessities. A sense of true divine beauty being given to the soul, the soul discerns the beauty of every part of the gospel scheme. This also shews the soul the truth of what the word of God declares concerning man's chief happiness, as consisting in holy exercises and enjoyments. This shews the truth, of what the gospel declares concerning the unspeakable glory of the heavenly state. And what the prophecies of the Old Testament, and the writings of the apostles declare concerning the glory of the Messiah's king. dom, is now all plain ; and also what the scripture teaches concerning the reasons and grounds of our duty. The truth of all these things revealed in the scripture, and many more that might be mentioned, appears to the soul, only by impart. ing that spiritual taste of divine beauty, which has been spoken of; they being hidden things to the soul before.
And besides all this, the truth of all those things which the scripture says about experimental religion, is hereby known ; for they are now experienced. And this convinces the soul, that one who knew the heart of man, better than we know our own hearts, and perfectly knew the nature of vir. tue and holiness, was the author of the scriptures. And the opening to view, with such clearness, such a world of wonderful and glorious truth in the gospel, that before was unknown, being quite above the view of a natural eye, but now appearing so clear and bright, has a powerful and invincible influence on the soul, to persuade of the divinity of the gospel.
Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evtdenco es of it, in the way that has been spoken, viz. by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and elfectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell
them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true ; and so much that they would be very
unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but dung for Christ ; the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient. It is impossible that men, who have not something of a gen• eral view of the historical world, or the series of history from age to age, should come at the force of arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn from history, to that degree, as effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it. After all that learned men have said to them, there will remain innumerable doubts on their minds; they will be ready, when pinched with some great trial of their faith, to say, “ How do I know this, or that? How do I know when these histories were written? Learned men tell me these histories were so and so attested in the day of them, but how do I know that there were such attestations then? They tell me there is equal reason to believe these facts, as any whatsoever that are related at such a distance ; but how do I know that other facts which are related of those ages, ever were ?”. Those who have not something of a general view of the series of historical events, and of the state of mankind from age to age, cannot see the clear evidence from history, of the truth of facts, in distant ages; but there will endless doubts and scruples remain.
But the gospel was not given only for learned men. There are at least nineteen in twenty, if not ninetynine in an hundred, of those for whom the scriptures were written, that are not capable of any certain or effectual conviction of the di. vine authority of the scriptures, by such arguments as learned men make use of. If men who have been brought up in Heathenism, must wait for a clear and certain conviction of the truth of Christianity, until they have learning and ac,
quaintance with the histories of politer nations, enough to see clearly the force of such kind of arguments ; it will make the evidence of the gospel to them immensely cumbersome, and will render the propagation of the gospel among them in. finitely difficult.) Miserable is the condition of the Houssatunnuck Indians, and others, who have lately manifested a desire to be instructed in Christianity, if they can come at no evidence of the truth of Christianity, suficient to induce them to sell all for Christ, in any other way but this.
It is unreasonable to suppose, that God has provided for his people no more than probable evidences of the truth of the gospel. He has with great care, abundantly provided, and given them, the most convincing, assuring, satisfying and manifold evidence of his faithfulness in the covenant of grace ; and as David says, “ made a covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” Therefore it is rational to suppose, that at the same time, he would not fail of ordering the matter so, that there should not be wanting, as great, and clear evidence, that this is his covenant, and that these promises are his promises ; or, which is the same thing, that the Christian religion is true, and that the gospel is his word. Otherwise in vain are those great assurances he has given of his faithfulness in his covenant, by confirming it with his oath, and so variously establishing it by seals and pledges. For the evidence that it is his covenant, is properly the foundation on which all the force and effect of those other assurances do stand. We may therefore undoubtedly suppose and conclude, that there is some sort of evidence which God has give en, that this covenant, and these promises are his, beyond all mere probability ; that there are some grounds of assurance of it held forth, which, if we were not blind to them, tend to give an higher persuasion, than any arguing from history, human tradition, &c. which the illiterate and unacquainted with history are capable of ; yea, that which is good ground of the highest and most perfect assurance, that mankind have in any case whatsoever, agreeable to those high expressions which the apostle uses, Heb. x. 22. “ Let us draw near in full assurance of faith. And Col. ï. 2. That their hearts might
be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” It is reasonable to suppose, that God would give the greatest evidence of those things which are greatest, and the truth of which is of greatest importance to us :) And that we therefore, if we are wise, and act rationally, shall have the greatest desire of having full, undoubting, and perfect assurance of. But it is certain, that such an assurance is not to be attained by the greater part of them who live under the gospel, by arguments fetched from ancient traditions, histories, and monuments.
And if we come to fact and experience, there is not the least reason to suppose, that one in an hundred of those who have been sincere Christians, and have had a heart to sell all for Christ, have come by their conviction of the truth of the gospel this way.) If we read over the histories of the many thousands that died martyrs for Christ, since the beginning of the reformation, and have cheerfully undergone extreme tortures in a confidence of the truth of the gospel, and consider their circumstances and advantages; how few of them were there, that we can reasonably suppose, ever came by their assured persuasion this way ; or indeed for whom it was pos. sible, reasonably to receive so full and strong an assurance, from such arguments ! Many of them were weak women and children, and the greater part of them illiterate persons, many of whom had been brought up in popish ignorance and darkness, and were but newly come out of it, and lived and died in times wherein those arguments for the truth of Christianity, from antiquity and history, had been but very imperfectly handled. And indeed, it is but very lately that these arguments have been set in a clear and convincing light, even by learned men themselves : And since it has been done, there never were fewer thorough believers among those who have been educated in the true religion ; infidelity neve er prevailed so much, in any age, as in this, wherein these are guments are handled to the greatest advantage.