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the light of nature, that repentance only will fatisfy the divine justice ; and reconcile you to God ? But atter all, were it even fupposed that repentance would necessarily give us a claim to mercy without any other fatisfaċtion to God’s justice, it muft then be another fort of repentance, than you feem to fuppofe. You muft then allow, that this repentance mutt be a thorough change of heart and life. For you can hardly fuppofe, that we are qualified for God’s favour, while all the powers of oar fouls are in direét opposition and aversion to him. And is this repentance in our power ? Can we at pleasure renew our own fouls ; and give ourfelves new affećtions, difpofitions, defires and delights? Can we change the bent and bias of our inclinations to the objeĜts of fenfe, and bring ourfelves to love God above all things; and to take our chief delight and compłaceney in him ? This must be obtain’d, in order to, enjoy the favour of God. And yet it is manifestly out of our reach. It muft be the effećł of an almighty power. I hope, you may now fee the neceffity of a Saviour, both to expiate your fin and guilt, which your repentance can never do; and to fanćtify your depraved foul ; and maké you meet for the fervice and enjoyment of God. If thēfe are obtain’d, you must be certainly and eternally fafe : but if you dare venture into eternity without them, I must needs fy you don’t want courage. You fee, I have addrefied you with an unreferv'd freedom and familiarity. I have overlook'd the distance of your charaĉter ; and treated you as if we were in the fame flate of equality now, as we fhall quickly find ourfelves before the tribunal of our glorious Judge. The cause requires this at my hands; and I should have been unfaithful, I had almoft faid anmerciful to you, if I had not fail'd oftbe decorum, which would have been my duty te have observ'd in any other cafe. I shall therefore depend upon your candid interpretation of this unpolished address ; and your kind acceptance of the faithfal defigus and defires of, S I R, Your most obedient humble Servant,
S I R, OU tell me, : My letter had almost thrown you “ into a fit of the fpleen.” But I can’t but hope, from your " awful concern, left you meet with the con* fufion I have therein defcribed,” that it will have a better effećt. I acknowledge, that “ a pathetick decla * mation cannot be received for argument.’ And thats * your faith muft be built upou evidences, that will * reach the understanding, as well as the fofter paffions “ of the foul.” But whatevidence do you defire or want, of the truth of Christianity? Confider, Sir. Confult your books and your friends. Make your demands as large, as you or they can contrive. And whatever rational evidence you are pleafed to ask for, shall be at your fervice. I have myself with particular application been confidering, what reafonable evidence can poffibly be confulted or defired, which the glorious God has not already given us, in confirmation of the Christian inftitution ; and I find nothing wanting, which we are capable of receiving. And I can’t but prefume, that if you likewife would impartially and in earnest put yourfelf upon the fame inquiry, you muft meet with a full and compleat fatisfaćtion.
You will certainly acknowledge, that the great Creatoris capable fome way or other to communicate his will to intelligent beings, with fufficient evidence that the revelation is from him. Now what I defire of you is to fit down, and confult upon fome fuch means of doing this, as would strike your mind with the ftrongest conr vićtion, obviate all your doubts, and give you the fulleft confirmation of the divine original of fuch a revelation. When you are come to a point, confider the credentials of Christianity : and fee whether you can find what you yourself would demand, and what you fuppofe: molt likely to give you fatisfaćtion.
Would you expeĉ from fuch a revelation, a reafonable account of our first original ? Look into the Mofaic history of the creation ; and there you will find, how the world, and how yourself originally fprang from the divine Fiat ; and in what manner we are the offspring of God. Would you expest a narrative of fuch circumstances of God’s difpenfations towards us from the beginning, as would be correspondent with our eonfiant experience and obfervation ? The fame history will inform you of those irregular affeếtions, and vitiated appetites and paffions, which every nan finds in himself; and which have brought fuch destrućtion and mifery upon the world, in ail its fucceffive periods, finee Adam’s fall. Would you expećł, that there should be early intimations of the method of our recovery from the state of fin and guilt, which we had brought ourselves into by cur apostacy? You will there also find the gracious promife, that the feed of the woman /bali break the ferpent's bead; and deliver us from the deadly effects of his malicious temptation. - Would you defire to find a particular predićtion of the promifed Saviour, by whom we are to obtain a redemption ; his lineage and defcent, the time, place and manner of his birth, the circurnstances of his life, death and refurrestion, a particular defeription of the nature, the fubjećès, and the continual progress of his kingdom? Read the prophecies of the Old Testament ; and read the history in the New ; and you will find fuch a correspondence and agreement, as will afford you matter of fallest fatisfaćtion, that they are both from God. Would you expećł, that there should be fome means, to keep the promifed Saviour in the centinued view of God’s people, before his aếtual and personal manifestation; and to keep alive their faith and hope in him ? What were all their facrifices, their legal purifications, their priesthood, and all their long train of rites and ceremonies, but institutions purpofely adapted to that end? * Would you expećt repeated and renewed testimonies from heaven, to the profeffing people of God, that their religion was from him ; and that their faith and hope,
excited by thefe typical institutions, were built upon a fure foundation ? Such were the miracles frequently wrought among them, the manifestation of the divine prefence in the Shechinah, their Urim and Thummim, their frequent oracles, their fuccession of prophets, whofe predićtions refpećting the Jews themfelves, and the nations round about them, were continually fulfilled and fulfilling before their eyes: and the accomplifhment of many of them, are apparently open and vifible to us alfoWould you fuppose, that near the predićted time of the Saviour’s appearance, not only the Jewish nation, but all others that were acquainted with their facred books, would live in rais'd expećtations of this great and wonderful event ? You will find in the Gofpels, in Jofephus, De Bell. Jud. Lib. vii. Cap. 31. Tacitus, Hift. Cap. 13. and Suetonius, In Vefpaf. Cap. 4. that this was the cafe in faćt. - «» Would you expećł, that when the Saviour did 2ppear, he would by the holinefs and beneficence of his life, and by numerous open and uncontefted miracles, give fuch attestation to his divine miffion, as would be fufficient evidence, that he was indeed the Meffiah fo frequently predićted, and fo earnefly expećted ? Dont the facred historians anfwer your highest expećtations, in this refpest ? In them you find, that the dead were raifed, the fick healed, the maimed restored to the ufe of their limbs, the fight of the blind recovered, the deafbrought to their hearing, the lepers cleanfed, the demons ejected ; and in a word, that the whole time of his miniftry was a continued fuccession of the most beneficent and aftonishing miracles; miracles as furprifing in their nature, as their number, fuch as vaftly exceeded the power of all created beings; and were therefore the strongest testimony from heaven, that this Saviour most certainly was, what he profeffed himself to be. |Would you expećt, that this Saviour should verify his divine miffion, to future times, by prophecies offucceeding events ? Dont the Evangelifts afford you many instances of fuch predićtions, which have been clearly and fully accomplished ? In thefe historians you will find, how he foretold the treafon of Judas, the shameful fall of Peter, with the fight of aistis difciples, in that gloomy, dreadful night, when the stepherd was fmitten: and the /beep feattered. In thefe you will find, how he foretold the time and manner of his own death, the term of his continuance in the grave, with his glorious refurrećtion and afcension. You will there alfo find him foretelling the Miffion, divine infpiration, miraculous powers, and glorious fuccess of his apostles; and their fellow-labourers in the Gospel-ministry. Thefe historians do likewife fet before you, his particular predićtion of the deftrućtion of Jerufalem ; and the abolition of the Temple, with the prodigies which preceded, the tribulation which accompanied, and the difperfion of the Jewish nation which followed, that amazing defoiation. And don't it furprize you to find from Josephus, that the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew, and the twenty first Chapter of Luke, are more like a history than a prophecy of that dreadful event ? If you should yet further expećt fome predićtions from*him, that extend to the prefent times, and are now vifibly accomplished before your eyes ; has he not foretold, and do you not find it true, that ferusalem fball continue to be trodden down of the Gentiles, untill the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled ? Would you expeĉt, that when this Mesfiah, according to the Prophecies concerning him, was cut off, he should declare himself the Son of God with power, by his refurrestion from the dead ? And has it not appeared true, that no precaution by fealing his tomb and fetting a guard over it, could prevent his triumph over the grave; and his appearing to great numbers of his difciples; and frequently and familiarly converfing with fome of them, for forty days together ; and finally afcending up to heaven before their eyes. Would you expećt, that his difciples, who were eye and ear witneffes of his life, death, refurrestion, and afcenfion ; and could not possibly be deceived in faćts fo open to all their fenfes, should at their pelil preach this Saviour to the world ; and continually undergo a life of painful travel and fatigue, poverty and reproach, opposition and perfecution, to propagate his Gospel ;