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Christianity, after having food such a trial as this, will no more be exposed to such virulent attacks as before, but will acquire such a fixed character of truth, as it could never have obtained without the opposition which it has met with. Such has been the fate of all the branches of true philosophy, of the Copernician system, the Newtonian theory of light and colours, and the Franklinian theory of electricity.
TT is in vain to say any thing by way of
I address to persons who will not read or think upon a subject. To the profligate and unthinking among the unbelievers I thall, therefore, say nothing, because they will not give thenfelves the trouble to read what I might be disposed to say to them; but to the more mora!, speculative, and thoughtful unbelievers, into whose hands this treatise may possibly fall, I would observe, and they must agree with me in it, that, in justice to themselves and to the subject, they should give it the most serious and deliberate examination. To men of reason and reflection the evidences of christianity must appear the most interesting of all subjects of inquiry. For what can be more so than fully to ascertain, that the present state is not the whole of our exist
ence, but that Jesus Christ, by the appointment of God his father, will come again to raise all the dead to a future endless life, and to give to every man according to his works. This is the great object and end of christian faith ; and those who believe this important doctrine receive it on the authority of Jesus Christ, whose divine mission was attested, as they believe, by such miracles as no man could have performed, without the presence and concurrence of God.
· Now before any person seriously rejects christianity, containing such important doctrines, he should certainly endeavour to fatisfy himself, at least on what foundation it is that he founds his dissent; and that such persons may more casily and effectually interrogate themselves upon the subject, I shall briefly propose a few leading questions, which may perhaps aslist them to ascertain the state of their own minds, and lead them to such reflections, or disquisitions, as may be of most use to them with respect to it; at the same time that they may serve as a kind of recapitulation of a few of the principal arguments in favour of christianity.
Is it not an indisputed fact, that there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate in Judea.
Is it not also a well known fact, that he had some followers when living, but, notwithstanding his ignominious sufferings, which disconcerted and dispersed all his adherents, many more after his death ; and that he was even acknowledged by them to be the Messiah, foretold by their antient prophets, though he sustained a character the very reverse of what was expected by all the Jews, the good as well as the bad ?
Are not the gospels, and the book of Aits, which contain the history of the life of Christ, and of the propagation of his religion in the world, authentic writings ? Were they not considered in all the carly ages, both by the friends and enemies of christianity, as the genuine productions of the early disciples of Christ?
Can this be admitted, without admitting also, that what they relate concerning Christ and his apostles is, in the main, true, at least that they did something above the power of man ; especially, that Christ did actually rise from the dead, as he had foretold, and as a proof that what he taught he had by commiffion from God?
Is it probable that such men as the apostles were, should have been able to shake off the strongest Jewish prejudices, which no other Jews, whether, with respect to morality, they were good or bad men, were ever able to do? Can they be supposed capable of inventing such a story, and especially of making it gain credit with the world, in such an age as that in which they lived, and circumstanced as they were for that purpose ?
Admitting this to be possible, can any sufficient motive be assigned, to induce so many of them, 'not only to enter into a scheme of this nature, but, what is much more, to carry it on, with a perseverance unknown to the profeffors of any scheme of