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seemed even to suspend the favour of God and their eternal happiness or misery on their reception of this new system. Surely nothing could be more hostile to their latitudinarian philosophy.

Again, though some of their sages had discovered much solicitude respecting a future existence, and many of them eagerly wished for instruction, yet the manner in which immortality was brought to light in the christian revelation, coupled as it was with the resurrection of the dead, and rested even on the resurrection of a crucified man, seemed to them a most contemptible, if not impious absurdity. We see plainly enough, in the reception of Paul's discourses at Athens and Corinth, and the expressions of king Agrippa at his trial, that the christian doctrine of a future life was no recommendation of the new religion to the wits and philosophers of that disputatious period.

Bui there is one circumstance resulting from the very refinement of that age, which it is impossible the christian revelation could have surmounted, had not the hand of God been engaged to establish it. It is this. The Greek language was at that time spoken in the utmost purity all over the empire. Eloquence was every where cultivated, and immoderately valued; and nothing could command the attention of men that did not come recommended with the graces of elocution and style. What now can be imagined more unfavourable to the success of the apostles, who were rude in speech and utterly unacquainted with the arts of popular addresses, thau such a polished period ? What! those men to overturn the systems of the world, whose language was so idiomatical that Peter was betrayed by it even to one of his own country women-men who were Galileans, without any of the fashionable science of the times--men humble in their aspect, poor in con

dition, fishermen by occupation, persecuted in every step of their progress, and recommending themselves to the Greeks and Romans, by professing to be the followers of one, who was crucified as a malefactor! These, then, were the circumstances under which christianity made such progress in the world, as that in three hundred years a christian emperour was on the throne of the Cæsars.

My friends, if you have viewed this subject in the light that I do, you will contemplate, with ever increasing amazement, the establishment of cbristanity,and adore the power of God. How wonderful, that the state of the world was such as to make that the fillest time for the birth of Christ, and yet the most unfavourable, in allbuman probability, to the success of his religion ! Every circumstance, which goes to prove the necessity of revelation at that moment, proves also the utter impossibility of establishing it by merely human means. Nothing but facts which could not be denied, miracles which could not be resisted, and a supernatural power in the teachers of the religion, could have a ade this astonishing change in the world. I know not whether the reasoning in this discourse be new, but of this I am sure, that if this counsel or this work had been of men, it would have come to nought of this I am sure, that the foolishness of God is wiser, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. I see not only the fulness of time in the period when Jesus appeared, but I am sure, from the unexampled success of his religion, that it was God who sent him forth, and that he sent forth bis Son. He asks us, my friends, whom think ye that I am ? I answer with Peter, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.



JOHN vii. 46.


The excellence of the gospel is so distinguishing, and the evidences of its divine original are so various, that a constant study of it, instead of diminishing our interest, or shaking our faith, tends rather to astonish us by the constant increase of its proofs, and the inexbaustible abundance of its motives. True it is, that a mind, wbich comes fresh to the examination of christianity, and, if such a thing is possible, with perfect impartiality, ought first to ascertain what is called the external evidence of the gospel, or, in other words, the credibility and authenticity of the historical testimony on which it rests. But when his conviction from this source is sufficiently established, and in this regular way, let the inquirer direct bis attention to what is called its internal evidence;such as the character of Christ and his apostles, the nature of his instructions, and what we understand in general hy the spirit of the gospel. In this way, if he is an inquirer of an ingenuou- disposition, and of a beart warmed with the love of virtue, he will love the gospel too well to sutfer any relicks of doubt to disturb him; he will be unable to reject what appears so divine, and what he finds so powerful, or to think it to be any thing else than what he wishes it to be,-the word of God.

There is something in the character of Jesus Christ, which, to an attentive reader of his bistory, is of more force than all the weight of external evidence, to prove bim divine. If we attempt to persuade ourselves, that there is nothing super-terrestrial in the picture, which, with so much simplicity and unlaboured consistency, the evangelists have given of our Lord, this question rushes upon the mind, and demands an answer: How was it, that in the common course of nature, in one of the most corrupt ages of the world, and in an obscure corner of an obscure country, a perfect personage or model of the moral class should all at once start up before the ' admiration of mankind, and now, after the lapse of many centuries, as well as then, remain unrivalled, and almost unapproached ? This is a phenomenon, which must be explained before any man can be satisfied with the rejection of divine interposition.

If, to relieve ourselves from this difficulty, which no man who thinks will fail to feel, we choose, with an absurd distrust of all history, to doubt that such a personage as our Lord existed, a greater difficulty meets us : How, if the original did not exist, did four writers like the evangelists acquire, without inspiration, the idea of such a character, and transmit, with such harmonious and lively colours, the picture we have of Jesus Christ. The imagination of any man can form a singular combination of qualities, a character merely extraordinary ; but if four men conceived, at the same time, and without any adequate prototype, such a character as is confessedly drawn of the blessed Jesus, I scruple not to say it was such a miracle of genius, as neither before nor since hath a parallel in the recorded history of the human mind,

In order that you may feel the argument, wbich I wish now to set before you, let me transport you back to Judea, and place you in the audience that were listening to the discourses of our Saviour, recorded in that chapter of St. John from which our text is taken.

The Pharisees and chief priests, enraged at the boldness of our Saviour's discourses, and jealous of the attention which he appeared to excite, order some of their officers to apprehend him. The officers go forth determined, as we may suppose, to obey their superiours, as usual. They advance 10ward the Son of God, then in the midst of bis discourse. They behold a man standing in all the conscious dignity of independent virtue, full of grave and impressive wisdom, which be delivers and enforces with the authority of divine power.

As they approach, no secret anxiety betrays itself in his countenance. In bis manner they discover none of the reserve and cunning of imposture, no arts to gain attention, no solicitude to provoke wonder or catch applause, none of the extravagancies of the head of a sect, no absurdities, and no symptoms of concern for family interest, or personal fame. All about Jesus of Nazareth is as fair, and grand, and unaffected, as the sun in bis course through a cloudless sky. He appears to be the delegate of Him, wbo sits at the head of the creation, proposing messages of love, and expressing, in his own manner, the benevolent designs of his Father in heaven towards this perverse nation. They behold him affectionate in his address, sublime in his conceptions, yet fearless in bis manner, meekly conscious that God was with him, and that his unbelieving hearers were a wicked and cruel race, who would bring upon themselves the vengeance of the Most High, whose prophet they rejected,

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