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“ Having some leisure, and more curiosity, I employed them both in resolving a qucstion, which secmed to me of some importance--whether Chriftianity was really an imposture, or whether it is what it pretends to be, a revelation communicated to mankind by the interposition of fupernatural power ? On a caudid inquiry, I foon found that the first was an absolute impossibility; and that its pretenfions to the latter were founded on the most folid grounds. In the further pursuit of my examination, I perceived at every step new lights arising, and some of the brightest from parts of it the most obscure, but productive of the clearest proofs, because equally beyond the power of human artifice to invent, and human reason to discover, These arguments, which have convinced me of the divine origin of thiş Religion, I have put together, in as clear and concise a manner as I was able, thinking they might have the same effect upon others; and being of opinion, that if there were a few more good Christians in the world, it would be beneficial to themselves, and by no means detri: mental to the public."
The excellence of Christianity appears in nothing more than that in proportion to the care with which its sacred oracles are examined, the more 'ftrongly does the light of its truth shine upon the mind. The progress of Infidelity, and the apostasy of multitudes, naturally awaken our concern, and make us more than usually solicitous to caution the rising generation against the errors of those, who
wish to mislead them, but is there any circum-
In the Epistles of St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Jude, you may read an exact anticipation of that Philofophy, falsely so called, which was ordained to agitate and afflict the world, in these latter or last times. And thus, by examining the Prophetic Word of God, and comparing it with the present state of the world, you increase the Evidences of Christianity. - The Free-thinkers of England, the Philosophilts of France, and the Illuminati of Germany, the disciples of Bolingbroke, Voltaire, and Weishaupt, confirm the divine origin of the Scriptures, which they reject, and accomplish in a most exact and wonderful manner, the
predi&tions which are the subject of their contempt and ridicule.
“ The probability that the gospel may be true, is inferred from the utter improbability that it should be false. It is like nothing of human contrivance. The perfection of its morality tranfcends the best efforts of human wisdom: the character of its Founder is far superior to that of a mere man: and it will not be said, that his Apostles can be compared to any other fishermen, or any other teachers that ever were heard of. The views displayed in the Gospel of the Divine dispensations, with respect to the human race, are such as before the commercement of our Saviour's ministry had never entered into the mind of man. To believe all this to be a mere human fable requires a degree of credulity, which, in the ordinary affairs of life, would do a man little credit; it is like believing, that a first rate ship of war might have been the work and the invention of a child i,»
I. The Benefits resulting from Chriftianity,
Let the fincere inquirer after truth turn with aversion from such delusive guides, as the Infidel
to See the “ Interpreter of Prophecy,'' Vol. II, for a parti. oular account of their pernic ous errors. i Beattie's Evidence of the Chriftian Religion, v. i, p. 86,
writers writers either of ancient or modern times, and confider what are the benefits, which the prevalence of Christianity has actually conferred upon the world; and let him carefully estimate what permanent and fubftantial good, by the influence of its precepts, and the fulfilment of its promises, it is able at all times to produce.
The Christian Religion has triumphed over those practices, custoins, and inftitutions, which in ancient times were a disgrace to the character of man. It has softened the horrors of war, and alleviated the treatment of prisoners. It has vindicated the rights of nature, by abolishing the cruel practice of exposing infants ; and it has raised the character and the importance of women in fociety, and given greater dignity, permanency, and honour to the inftitution of marriage. It put a stop to the combats of gladiators, the favourite and barbarous amusements of the Romans ; it banished the licentious conduct that disgraced the worship of the Pagan Deities, as well as totally extinguifhed the worship itself. It has abridged the labours of the mass of mankind, and procured for them one happy day in seven for the enjoyment of repofe, and attention to the exercises of public devotion. All Christian countries, and more especially our own, abound with establishments for the relief of sickness and poverty, and the maintenance of helpless infancy, and decrepid age. It has triumphed over the Navery, that prevailed in every part of the Roman Empire, and pursues its glorious progress, in the
diminution diminution of a similar state of misery and oppreffion, which has long disgraced the character of Europeans in the West Indies.
Thus has it in its general and combined effects exalted the character of man, by engrafting the pureft affections, and the most sacred duties upon the stock of his natural desires, and moft powerful instincts. It has provided the means of establishing a perfect harmony between the fenfibilities of his nature, and the convictions of his reason, by the Revelation of its divine truths.
And, not to expatiate upon its mild and salutary effects upon the temper, the passions, and the general conduct of millions, who, although their names were never recorded in the pages of history, were more worthy and honourable members of society, and are infinitely more deserving the approbation of mankind, than all the ancient heroes who have fought renown by war, or all the modern sceptics who have aspired to fame by their opposition to the faith; we may enumerate, in addition to its extensive and various improvements, the refinement it has given to manners, and its beneficial influence upon the public judgment of morals. Mankind, nu longer · left a prey to ignorance, or to loose and fluctuating opinions, are furnished with a guide to which they can always resort, for principles of religion and rules of conduct. Hence the most illiterate and humble members of the Christian Church can form more true and accurate notions of the Deity, his