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my claim. We are not driven to this necessity; and therefore, although every person of true taste reads with the highest admiration many parts of the New Testament, although every divine ought to cultivate a taste for the sacred classics, and has often occasion to illustrate their beauties, it is better to rest the evidence of our religion upon arguments less controvertible. Neither have I mentioned that inward conviction which the excellence of the matter, the grace of the promises, and the awfulness of the threatenings, produce on every mind disposed by the influence of heaven to receive the truth. This is the witness of the Spirit, the highest and most satisfying evidence of divine revelation; the gift of God, for which we pray, and which every one who asks with a good and honest heart is encouraged to expect. But this witness within ourselves, although it removes every shadow of doubt from our own breasts, cannot be stated to others. They are to be convinced, not by our feelings but by their own; and the truth of that fact, upon which the Deistical controversy turns, must be established by arguments which every understanding may apprehend, and with regard to which the experience of one man cannot be opposed to the experience of another. Of this kind are the points which I have stated; the superior excellence of that system contained in the books of the New Testament, taken in conjunction with the condition of those whom we know to be the authors of them, the character of Jesus Christ, as drawn by his disciples, and their own character as it appears from their writings. I do not say that these arguments will have equal force with all; but I say that they are fitted by their nature to make an impression upon every understanding which considers them with attention and candour. I allow that they form only a presumptive evidence for the high claim advanced in these books; and I consider the external evidence of Christianity as absolutely necessary to establish our faith. But I have called your attention particularly to the various branches of this internal evidence, not only because the result of the four taken together appears to me to form a very strong presumption, but also because they constitute a principal part of the study of a divine. By dwelling upon these branches -by reading with care the many excellent books which

treat of them, and, above all, by searching the Scriptures with a special view to perceive the force of this internal evidence, your sense of the excellence of Christianity is confirmed; your hearts are made better, and you acquire the most useful furniture for those public ministrations in which it will be more your business to confirm them that believe, than to convince the gainsayers. The several points which I have stated perpetually recur in our discourses to the people; our lectures and our sermons are full of them; and therefore, the more extensive and various our information is with regard to these points, and the deeper the impression which the frequent contemplation of them has made upon our own minds, we are the better able to magnify, in the eyes of those for whose sakes we labour, the unsearchable riches of the Gospel, and to build them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.

Newcome on the Character of our Saviour.

Leechman's Sermons.

Conybeare's Answer to Tindal.

Leland on the Advantages of the Christian Revelation.
Leland's View of the Deistical Writers.

Duchal's Sermons.

Jenyns on the Internal Evidences of Christianity.

Macknight on the Truth of the Gospel History.

Paley's Evidences of Christianity, Vol. II.

Bishop Porteus' Summary of the Evidences of Christianity.





HAVING satisfied your minds that the books of the New Testament are authentic and genuine, that they contain nothing upon account of which they deserve immediately to be rejected, and that their contents afford a very strong presumption of their being what they profess to be,-a revelation from God to man, it is natural next to inquire what is the direct evidence in support of this presumption; for, in a matter of such infinite importance, it is not desirable to rest entirely upon presumptions: and it is not to be supposed that the strongest evidence which the nature of the case admits will be withheld. The Gospel professes to offer such evidence; and our Lord distinguishes most accurately between the amount of that presumptive evidence which arises from the excellence of Christianity, and the force of that direct proof which he brought. Of the presumptive evidence he thus speaks: "If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God."* i. e. Every man of an honest mind will infer from the nature of my doctrine, that it is of Divine origin. But of the direct proof he says: "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin. But now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father." "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not: But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works."+ To the direct proof he constantly appeals: "The works which the Father hath given me to do bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."‡ He declares that the same works which he did, and greater than them, should his servants do :§ And what these works + John v. 36.

*John vii. 17. § John xiv. 12.

+ John xv. 24; x. 37, 38.

are, we learn from his answer to the disciples of John the Baptist, who brought to him this question, "Art thou he that should come?" "Go," said he, " and show John again those things which ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers_are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised."* The Gos

pel then professes to be received as a divine revelation upon the footing of miracles; and, therefore, every person who examines into the truth of our religion, ought to have a clear apprehension of the nature of that claim.

That I may not pass hurriedly over so important a subject, I have been led to divide my discourse upon miracles into three parts: in the first of which I shall state the force of that argument for the truth of Christianity which arises from the miracles of Jesus recorded in the New Testament.


ALL that we know of the Almighty is gathered from his works. He speaks to us by the effects which he produces; and the signatures of power, wisdom, and goodness, which appear in the objects around us, are the language in which God teaches man the knowledge of himself. From these objects we learn the providence as well as the existence of God; because, while the objects are in themselves great and stupendous, many of them appear to us in motion, and, through the whole of nature, we observe operations which indicate not only the original exertions, but also the continued agency of a supreme invisible power. These operations are not desultory. By experience and information we are able to trace a certain regular course, according to which the Almighty exercises his power throughout the universe; and all the business of life proceeds upon the supposition of the uniformity of his operations. We are often, indeed, reminded that our experience and information are very limited. Extraordinary

* Matt. xi. 4, 5.

appearances at particular seasons astonish the nations of the earth; new powers of nature unfold themselves in the progress of our discoveries; and the accumulation of facts, collected and arranged by successive generations, serves to enlarge our conceptions of the greatness and the order of that system to which we belong. But although we do not pretend to be acquainted with the whole course of nature, yet the more that we know, we are the more confirmed in the belief that there is an established course: and every true philosopher is encouraged by the fruit of his own researches to entertain the hope, that some future age will be able to reconcile with that course appearances which his ignorance is at present unable to explain.

Although the business of life and the speculations of philosophy proceed upon the uniformity of the course of nature, yet it cannot be understood by those who believe in the existence of a Supreme Intelligent Being, that this uniformity excludes his interposition whensoever he sees meet to interpose. We use the phrase, laws of nature, to express the method in which, according to our observation, the Almighty usually operates. We call them laws, because they are independent of us, because they serve to account for the most discordant phenomena, and because the knowledge of them gives us a certain command over nature. But it would be an abuse of language to infer from their being called laws of nature, that they bind him who established them. It would be recurring to the principles of atheism, to fate, and blind necessity, to say that the author of nature is obliged to act in the manner in which he usually acts; and that he cannot, in any given circumstances, depart from the course which we observe. The departure, indeed, is to us a novelty. We have no principles by which we can foresee its approach, or form any conjecture with regard to the measure and the end of it. But if we conceive worthily of the Ruler of the universe, we shall believe that all these departures entered into the great plan which he formed in the beginning; that they were ordained and arranged by him; and that they arise at the time which he appointed, and fulfil the purposes of his wisdom.

There is not then any mutability or weakness in those occasional interpositions which seem to us to suspend the

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