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never can be precisely in their situation; these men uniformly declare, that the mere light of nature, was not competent to conduct them into the paths of happiness, and religion ; and that the only sure and certain guide, must be, as Plato expresses it, “a divine discovery of the truth.” These considerations may serve to show, that instead of entertaining any unreasonable prejudice against the possibility, or the probability of any divine Revelation whatever; we ought, on the contrary, to be previously prepossessed in its favour; and to be prepared to receive it with candour and fairness, whenever it should come supported with sufficient evidence : because, from considering the wants of man, and the mercy of God, it appears highly probable, that such a revelation, would at some period or other be vouchsafed to mankind. That such a discovery hath been made, and that Christianity is that revelation, it will be my object, in a future discourse to show. In the mean time, my brethren, let it be urged upon persons who are unsettled, or at least who are not well established in their faith, to examine the Evidences of Revelation, with that seriousness
and concern which the importance of the subject demands.
Nothing certainly can be more desirable to creatures constituted, and circumstanced as we are, than to find some firm ground, on which our minds may rest, with regard to moral and religious truth; and with regard to a future state. Nothing surely, my brethren, can be more distressing, except to a profligate and vicious mind, that wishes to live free from all sense of duty, than a state of uncertainty, and scepticism upon these momentous subjects. If the scriptures do not contain a revelation from God, then to say the least, it does not yet appear,
after the search of several thousand years, where we are to find any sufficient support, or any competent guide of our steps. We have no prospect before us, but to wander on in darkness and uncertainty; and at length to die in ignorance, and in doubt. But, my brethren, if the Bible be, as it is in truth, a perfect revelation of the mind, and will of God, in it we shall have found, at once, a sure resting place, a firm ground of hope, an infallible standard of truth and duty; whereunto we may always resort, and from which we may derive great and endless comfort.
Finally, let me urge upon such, as have examined the truth of revelation, and have yielded to the force of its evidence, the infinite obligation they are under to study, and to receive it. Barely speculative knowledge can be of little other service to its possessor than to inflate him with vain conceit. The point, my brethren, of importance is, that our hopes be practically built upon the promises, and on the invitations of the Gospel; and that our tempers, dispositions, and judgments; in a word, that our whole conduct be regulated by its rules. It is in vain, that we convince men of the truth of Christianity, if these objects be not accomplished ; if they remain impenitent, if they remain destitute of that active and self-appropriating faith, which bringeth forth the fruits of righteousness. It is in vain, that we profess Christianity; yea, it would be in vain, that we“ had understood all mysteries, and all knowledge,” if we should at last be found destitute of those tempers, and their active fruits ; of that piety, that humility, that benevolence,
and that charity, which it is “ the end of the commandments,” and the design of revelation to produce. And let us ever remember, that obedience is the path to religious knowledge. “ He that doeth my will, saith the Saviour, shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” May God of his infinite mercy grant, that we, my brethren, may be found among the number of such humble, and obedient inquirers after truth; that we may be rooted and grounded, and established in the faith ; that we may bring forth the fruits of righteousness, and in the end have everlasting life.
ON THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE THAT CHRISTIANITY
IS THAT REVELATION.
“ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when
we made known unto you the power, and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but were eye-witnesses of his Majesty."-2 Peter i. 16.
Having in our former discourse shown the necessity, and therefore the probability of a divine revelation, arising from the wants of man, and from the mercy of God; and that there was an expectation among the sages of antiquity, that such a revelation would be given ; I shall now proceed to show, that such a discovery hath been vouchsafed to mankind, and that Christianity is this revelation ; and, therefore, that in professing the Christian religion, “ we have not followed cunningly devised fables.” The external evidence we possess, that Christianity is a revelation from God,