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trine of our redemption by Christ presupposes, so much falls in with natural appearances, that heathen moralists inferred it from those appearances; inferred, that human nature was fallen from its original rectitude, and, in consequence of this, degraded from its primitive bappiness. Or, however this opinion came into the world, these appearances must have kept up the tradition, and confirmed the belief of it. And as it was the general opinion, under the light of nature, that repentance and reformation, alone and by itself, was not sufficient to do away sin, and procure a full remission of the penalties annexed to it; and as the reason of the thing does not at all lead to any such conclusion; so every day's experience shews us, that reformation is not, in any sort, sufficient to prevent the present disadvantages and miseries, which, in the natural course of things, God has annexed to folly and extravagance. Yet there may be ground to think, that the punishments, which, by the general laws of divine government, are annexed to vice, may be prevented; that provision may have been, even originally, made, that they should be prevented by some means or other, though they could not by reformation. alone. For we have daily instances of such mercy, in the general conduct of nature ; compassion provided for misery, * medicines for diseases, friends against enemies. There is provision made, in the original constitution of the world, that much of the natural bad consequences of our follies, which persons themselves alone cannot prevent, may be prevented by the assistance of others; assistance, which nature enables, and disposes, and appoints them to afford. By a method of goodness. analogous to this, when the world lay in wickedness, and consequently in ruin, “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” to save it; and “ he being made perfect by suffering, became the anThor of eternal salvation to all them that obey hiin." +

* Sermon 6th, at the Rolls.

John iii. 16. Heb. v. 9.

Indeed, neither reason nor analogy would lead us to think, in particular, that the interposition of Christ, in the manner in which he did interpose, would be of that efficacy for recovery of the world, which the Scripture teaches us it was : but neither would reason nor analogy lead us to think, that other particular means would be of the efficacy, which experience shews they are, in numberless instances. And therefore, as the case before us does not admit of experience ; so, that neither. reason nor analogy can shew, how, or in what particular way, the interposition of Christ, as revealed in Scripture, is of that efficacy which it is there represented to. be; this is no kind nor degree of presumption against its being really of that efficacy. Farther : the objections against Christianity, from the light of it not being universal, nor its evidence so strong as might possibly. be given us, have been answered by the general analogy of nature.

That God has made such variety of creatures, is indeed an answer to the former; but that he dispenses his gifts in such variety, both of degrees and kinds, amongst creatures of the same species, and even to the same individuals at different times, is a more obvious, and full answer to it. And it is so far from being the method of Providence, in other cases, to afford us such overbearing evidence, as some require in proof of Christianity, tbat, on the contrary, the evidence upon which we are naturally, appointed to act in common matters, throughout a very great part of life, is doubtful in a high degree. And, admitting the fact, that God has afforded to some, no more than doubtful evidence of religion, the same account may be given of it, as of difficulties and temptations with regard to practice. But as it is not impossible, * surely, that this alleged doubtfulness may be nien's own fault, it deserves their most serious consideration, whether it be not so. However, it is certain that doubting implies a degree of evidence for that of which we doubt; and that this degree of evidence as really lays us under.ob ligations, as demonstrative evidence.

* Page 224, Se.

The whole then of religion is throughout credible ; mor is there, I think, any thing relating to the reveals ed dispensation of things more different from the

experienced constitution, and course of nature, than somo parts of the constitution of nature are from other parts of it. And if so, the only question wbich remains is, What positive evidence can be alleged for the truth of Christianity? This too, in general, has been considered; and the objections against it estimated. Deduct, therefore, what is to be deducted from that evidence, upon account of any weight which may be thought to remain in these objections, after what the analogy of nature has .suggested in answer to them; and then consider, what are the practical consequences from all this, upon the most sceptical principles one. can argue upon, (for I am writing to persons who ens tertain these principles): and upon such consideration, it will be obvious, that immorality, as little excuse as it admits of in itself, is greatly aggravated, in persons who have been made, acquainted with Christianity, whether they believe it or not; because the moral system: of nature, or natural religion, which Christianity lays: before us, approves itself, almost intuitively; to a reasonable mind upon seeing it proposed. In the next place, with regard to Cbristianity, it will be observed, that there is a middle, between a full satisfaction the truth of it, and a satisfaction of the contrary. The middle state of mind between these two; consists in a serious apprehension, that it may be true, joined with doubt, whether it be so. And this, upon the besti judgment I am able to make, is as far towards speculative infidelity, as any sceptic can at all be supposed to go, who has bad true Christianity, with the proper evidence of it, laid before him, and has in any

tole. çable measure considered them. For I would not be mistaken to comprehend all who have ever heard of it; because it seems evident, that in many countries called Christian, neither Christianity, nor its evidence,.. are fairly laid before men. And in places where both are, there appear to be some who have very little attended to either, and who reject Christianity with a scorn proportionate to their inattention ; and yet are by no means without understanding in other matters. Now it has been shewn, that a serious apprehension that Christianity may be true, lays persons under the strictest obligations of a serious regard to it, throughout the whole of their life; a regard not the same exactly, but in many respects nearly the same, with what a full conviction of its truth would lay them under. Lastly, It will appear, that blasphemy and profaneness, I mean with regard to Christianity, are absolutely without excuse.

For there is no temptation to it, but from the wantonness of vanity or mirth; and these, considering the infinite importance of the subject, are no such temptations as to afford any excuse for it. If thiş be a just account of things, and yet men can go on to vilify or disregard Christianity, which is to talk and act, as if they had a demonstration of its falsehood; there is no reason to think they would alter their behaviour to any purpose, though there were a demonstration of its truth.

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