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S E R M O N IX. The Author's Review and Conclusion.
T TAVING in the foregoing discourses advanced a variety of
arguments to demonstrate THE TRUTH AND SAFETY OF
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, I shall beg leave to take a Thort review of what has been so laid before you, that I may with the greater propriety put the question home to your hearts and consciences, namely, ARE THESE THINGS SO?
You may remember then, that in my first discourse, I proved the existence of a God from the various and inimitable works of the creation ; from thence I proceeded to demonstrate a future state from the nature of the soul ; from the miseries of this life, the unequal distribution of the good things thereof; and from the concurrent consent of mankind. As these truths may be clearly proved from the voice of nature and reason, without the assistance of revelation, I Aatter myself, I brought such arguments to support the doctrine proposed, as cannot fairly be confuted.—The next step I deemed necessary to take was, to demonstrate the divine authority of the facred scriptures, which I hope I have done, to the conviction of those of my hearers, who might possibly be wavering in their opinion before. That we might not perplex or . Y 2
burthen your memories with too great a number of arguments we rested the matter here ;—that the style and manner in which those writings of the inspired penmen are delivered, are every way superior to any human compositions ; and as an undeniable proof of their validity, I collected a small number of prophecies, small in comparison of what might be produced, which I proved to be fulfilled in a wonderful manner : and as these were principally extracted from the Old Testament,-in my last discourse, I selected such passages from the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles, recorded in the New, as were most liable to exception, and proved that even pagan writers confirmed the truth of the evangelical: histories. When I had satisfied you concerning the authenticity of our BIBLE, I imagined that nothing more was necessary in order to convince you of the truth of the christian religion, but to lay before you the miraculous manner in which the gospel was. promulged and, propagated; namely, by the means only of a few. fishermen and labourers, who from being weak, timid and illiterate, grew on a sudden, not only learned and eloquent, but bold. and intrepid ; whọ preached up Chrilt crucified to the conviction of thousands; and at last sealed the truth by encountering various deaths in far distant parts,, and almost all over the face of the whole habitable earth. And, in order that no kind of evidence might be wanting, I laid before you a short history of St. Paul; who from a Jew became a christian, from a persecutor à martyr ; who relinquished at once all the honours' and pleasures of this world for the humble doctrines of the cross ; and who gloried in nothing. so much, as that God had vouchsafed to call him to the knowledge of his son Jesus Christ'; that he had separated him from the rest of his nation to preach the gospel, to suffer all manner of worldly shame and forrow, and to lay down his life as a confirmation of the truth of those things which he so openly de"ired to the whole world. This is the plan I have pursued, and
no effential article, I hope, has been left unsettled; and therefore I think, I may now with boldness put the question in our text, “ ARE THESE THINGS SO?”. And I question not, but that all of you will, with one consent, join with me, and ingenuously acknowkedge THAT THEY ARE SO. - In the prosecution of these discourses, you may have observed, that in order to avoid ambiguity, we have said little or nothing concerning the mysteries of the christian religion ; and our reason for so doing was this, that when we had led you, step by step, to à confession of a few general truths, fuch as the being of a God, the certainty of a future state, and the truth of the historical parts of the sacred scriptures ; when we had demonstrated to you, that the writings contained in the Old and New Testament were dictated by the aid and affiftance of the Spirit of God, and that neither the one nor the other could be mere human compositions, we might then draw this natural and undeniable conclusion, that every doctrine, and every mystery that can be clearly proved from those sacred' writings, must command our assent, though confessedly beyond the reach of our weak comprehension. For it is, fufficient for us, that we find them recorded as articles of our faith, in those sacred books; and what other and stronger arguments can we defire for the confirmation of their truth ?-As it is an impracticable, so it is a dangerous attempt to aim at rendering divine mysteries easy and intelligible to any human comprehension,--and to say, that we will believe notlıing but what we can clearly conceive, is equally absurd and childish; for how many things are most incontestably true, that we cannot possibly account for ? All we know iš, that they are.-That there is a God ;--that all nature dies, and revives again in due season ;—that we have rational and immortal: fouls. These are as great mysteries of Almighty nower as the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity itself. That such things are, we are well assured, but how they came to be so, is a secret resolv
åble alone by infinite wisdom. Is it therefore any greater instance of credulity to believe the mysteries of our most holy religion, -which are so strongly confirmed in the sacred scriptures, than it is to believe the truths above-mentioned ?-I think it is not.-And therefore if you will but make the scriptures the rule and standard of your faith, you cannot err. Let this be the touch-fone ;here fix your foot :-THE SACRED SCRIPTURES.--Examine difpassionately whether such and such things as are required of you to believe and practise are clearly revealed in those divine writings; if they are, all you have further to do, is to give your unfeigned ailent and to act accordingly.
Men and brethren, ARE THESE THINGS SO ?-_'s there a God above, who sees, who knows our most secret thoughts and actions ? - Is there a life after this, where we shall dwell forever either in the most exquisite torments, or the most consummate joys ? - Were the holy scriptures dictated by the Spirit of God ?-Did the blessed Jesus lay down his life to procure eternal happiness for us ?-Must not the Evangelists and Apostles be fully convinced of the truth of those transactions which they recorded, when they chearfully laid down their lives as an everlasting testimony of their veracity ?-May not the christian cause then boast of the strongest evidence that ever was produced in favour of any institution ?-If these things are so, as I hope you are all convinced they are, and as I am sure you have every reason you can desire to induce you to assent to them, then be persuaded to lend an attentive ear.-Think how nearly you are concerned to believe, think how greatly it be hoves you to practise all the virtues that are recommended to you in those books, which were composed by the inspiration of God himself. · The Lord our governor and protector requires nothing from his
creatures but what will be greatly conducive to their good. He · bas vouchsafed to be reconciled to us after our unhappy fall; and to