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the nation with the most atrocious crime that ever had been committed,—the murder of the Son of God. The Apostles did not explain away the charge, though they offered them pardon in the name of God. But even this doctrine, so repugnant to the prejudices and pride of that people, carried home by Divine influence, found its way to the hearts of many. “ A great company even of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Strong must that evidence, and powerful must that influence have been, which made those men abandon their altar, forsake their temple, and renounce that order from which they derived their honours and emoluments, to become disciples of a crucified Saviour, “ Yet so mighty grew the word of God and prevailed.” The motives of such a change are not to be found in the ordinary principles of human action, and must be referred to His influence, who, as he made the heart of man, is able to direct its motions, and conduct its energies without doing violence to its liberty.

If Christianity had such obstructions to combat and to conquer among the Jews, it had if possible still more pow. erful obstacles to overcome among the Gentiles. The whole Gentile world was addicted to the most abominable idolatry. Altars were everywhere erected to fiotitious divinities, or to dead men deified, but nowhere was there one to be found, to the God who made, and who preserves the world. Accustomed to this wretched superstįtion from their earliest years, they were disciplined to its services, and inured to its crimes. It was consecrated by immemorial usage, rendered venerable in their eyes by the practice of all their statesmen, by the approbation of all their philosophers and sages, and by the songs of their poets. It was a religion suited to the nạ, tural corruption of the human heart. It set men at ease in their sins, by keeping out of sight the tribunal of their Maker, and by placing before them gods who were triumphant in villainy. To the votaries of such a religion, Christianity must have been extremely offensive. It call. ed them to renounce thousands of gods, in which they had been taught to believe, and to desist from every religious rite which they had learned to practise, and, con, fessing the guilt of their idolatrous worship, to ask par. don from the Creator and Governor of the world, through the mediation of his Son, and by the influence of his Spirit.-The ministers of this religion too, were particularly obnoxious, as well as the Saviour whom they preached. The Saviour sprang from a nation which the Romans considered as many degrees below themselves in the knowledge of the fine arts, and which had lately been conquered by their arms. To be called by the ministry of Jews, to believe in a Jew who had been crucified, as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, they considered as an insult to their understand. ing, as well as an impeachment of their virtue. To trample the religion of Jesus in the dust, they all combined. The magistrate, considering himself as the protector of the established religion, hastened to its support by enforcing penal laws, written in blood. For three hundred years, almost every successor to the imperial power, suoceeded to his predecessor's rage against Christianity, and to his hostility to the Christians. The priests seeing their craft in danger, flew with fury to revenge, what they called the cause of their gods, but which was, indeed, their own.

Philosophy tried all her arts, and ransacked all her stores, to find arguments against the Gospel. Eloquence contributed all her powers to the

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same purpose. The historians drew, in sable colours, the character of Christians, and charged them with every human vice. The poets and satyrists attacked Christi. anity with wit and ridicule, while the mob acted their part, at the conclusion of every theatrical representation, by calling for the Christians to be exposed to the lions.

- And yet all these methods of persecution were utterly inadequate to stop the progress of the Gospel. superior to all opposition, and bade defiance to the wrath of men.

Though these made war with the Lamb, the Lamb overcame them.

“ There are four things,” says Bishop Atterbury, “that chiefly conduce towards the spreading of any new doctrine, and most remarkably make way for its reception in the world.

“ As, first, If the principles of it be suited to the lusts, the interests, and wishes of those, among whom it is to be propagated.

“ Secondly, If it be supported and countenanced by persons in power and authority, of great name and note; if it be either forcibly obtruded upon them by sanguinary laws and edicts, or more indirectly advanced by art and management, and the methods of worldly prudence.

Thirdly, If it be first brought into the world in dark and barbarous ages, when men are either too rude and illiterate, to be able to weigh and dispute the truth of it, or too much sunk in sloth and vice, to be willing to do it. Or,

Fourthly, If it be not proposed to men, all at once, but be insinuated into them by degrees, secretly and insensibly.”

Having examined the propagation of Christianity by these four particulars, and having shown, with great force of argument, that none of them were applicable to Chris

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tianity, the eloquent prelate thus sums up the evidence, “ The Gospel of Christ, at its earliest appearance, had all the probabilities in the world against its success; for it was possessed scarcely of any one of those advantages, which do most signally recommend a new doctrine, and make it thrive. It had no complying tenets to sooth men's appetites and passions; but was all harsh and austere. It had no encouragement, no protection from the civil power, no force or cunning to uphold it; no men of eminence and esteem to engage on its side. which was pitched upon for the discovery of it, was more discerning and enlightened, more curious and inquisitive, than, perhaps, any that either preceded or followed it; and, therefore, the success of this doctrine could not be owing to men’s ignorance or supineness. Finally, its promulgators delivered it not out by parcels, as is the way of cunning and designing men; but offered the whole of it to be altogether examined and compared. Nevertheless, though pressed with all these clogs and encumbrances, it sprang forth, and made its way into the world, by a swift and incredible progress.

“ The inference from hence is plain and indisputable; that a divine power and virtue certainly went along with it, to supply what was wanting to it upon other accounts; and that its increase must needs have been supernatural, and miraculous : so that, were we acquainted with nothing more, concerning the Apostles, than what the four Evangelists have left us ; were the book of their Acts lost, and together with it an account of the wonderous effusion of the Holy Spirit upon them, at the day of Pentecost; and of the mighty signs and wonders, which they afterwards performed in virtue of that unction: I say, were we in the dark as to all these transactions, which declare the Christian religion to have been propagated by miracle ; yet still every considering man must think, that there was somewhat miraculous in it. Such an increase from such beginnings--such a wonderful revolution, brought about by instruments so weak and disproportionate-is itself a miracle, and the greatest of miracles; and doth as evidently assure us, that the preaching of the Apostles was in the demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power, (1 Cor. ii. 4) as if we had heard them speaking strange tongues, seen them healing the blind and lame, and reviving the dead."*

The conversion of the Apostle Paul, with all the circumstances of that event, forms a strong evidence of the truth of the Gospel. Never was man more decidedly inimical to the religion of Jesus, than was Saul of Tarsus. Not contented with rousing all the energies of his great mind, to confute the doctrines of Christianity, he breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ. As he went to Damascus with a commission from the High-priest, to bring in chains to Jerusalem whatever disciples of Christ he should find there, he was, by a sudden light, struck to the ground, and heard a powerful voice thus expostulating with him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?” Desiring to know who that being was, whose light had overwhelmed, and whose voice had terrified him, he received this answer, “ I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest." Being directed by the Saviour to proceed on his journey, and being assured that in Damascus he should receive complete information of his duty, he was led by the companions of

• Sermon on the Miraculous Propagation of the Gospel,

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