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ventive genius, of any age, could never have contrived, and put together, a history of this nature. What is most wonderful is published: what has no marks of human contrivance upon it: what is consistent and harmonious, in all its parts: what accords with the state of the Jews, and of surrounding nations: the state of Jews and Gentiles, immediately after the days of the apostles and first teachers of the Gospel, is explained by what they exhibit: the effects require just the very causes their writings contain. Viewing these things separately, but especially combining them together, I am obliged to say, There is no room for suspicion, this cannot be the forgery of imposture: it is, it cannot but be, the very truth. The passage from which the text is taken, leads naturally into this trairt of reflexion. This address of St. Peter was uttered, but a few weeks after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. He openly accuses the chief priests and rulers, as the murderers of his divine master: he refers to the character and miracles of his master: he refers to the ancient prophecies, which the Jews highly respected: he asserts the resurrection and ascension of the Lord.- the ascension and glory
of of the Lord explain the gift of tongues, the boldness of the apostles, the success of their preaching, the diffusion of the Gospel.
"Now when they heard these things, they "were pricked in their hearts, and said unto "Peter and the rest ot the apostles, Men and "brethren what shall we do? Then Peter "said unto them, Repent and be baptised "every one of you, in the name of Jesus ** Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye "shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: "for the promise is to you and your chil"dren, and to all that are afar off, even as "many as the Lord our God shall call: and "in many other words did he testify and ex"hort, saying, Save yourselves from this un* toward generation."
From the acccounts given us, in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, of the character and conduct of the enemies of Christianity, nothing is more evident than that they were a perverse set of people. To shew that the enemies of Christianity, of these days, merit the same name, and ought to be regarded as such: that we ought
to to save ourselves from this "untoward gene*' rationis the design of our present discourse.
You who are firmly established in the belief of the truth of our holy religion, cannot well question the perversity of those who resist evidence that with you is irresistible; of those who are the enemies of God and of his Christ. It may serve to confirm you more and more in your faith, however, to find that perversity opposes the Gospel now as well as in the beginning; that its ancient and modern enemies are distinguished by similar characters and conduct; and that we ought, with the greatest care, to save ourselves from being endangered, ensnared and perverted by them. ,
"we might begin with saying, Here is a system that ought not to be spoken against, that claims respect and reverence, for the sublimity of its doctrines, for the purity of its morals, for the perfection of its examples. The most perfect, and the most admired, doctrines of the sages of antiquity, are the twinkling stars of midnight, when we behold
E e the the Sun of Righteousness: Jesus speaks as having authority: he does not require and recommend, only, but exhibits whatever is great and venerable; good and excellent; amiable and attracting: Virtues of the highest order, tried in the severest manner, illustrated by sufferings, and endeared by whatever commands attention, fixes admiration, ensures interest, and gains the heart. I am speaking as a believer indeed, but all I have said might be maintained on the comparison that thinks not of inspiration: all I have said, and more, has been asserted by infidels themselves. Making such professions, holding this language, and yet remaining the active enemies of Christianity, I know of no more appropriate name for them, than a perverse generation.
We might go on to say, This system ought not to be spoken against, because it is so conducive to the good of society. Reasoning and history, and experience; the experience of ancient times; the experience of our own times; unite in this conclusion; Religion is essential to the happiness of society. For restraining violence, for securing order,
for for inspiring peace and good will, for rendering all ranks and conditions of men attentive to their respective duties; and eminent and distinguished for what is amiable and excellent, and useful: what can serve a patriot's purpose, the philanthropist's earnest desire, more effectually, or so effectually, as the Gospel of Jesus? Is the man to be charged with less than perversity, who endeavours to deprive men of that Gospel? Is not the man who would deprive us of Christianity, without substituting what is better fitted for promoting and securing the happiness of the world, an enemy of mankind?
An infidel ought to remember, and a Christian is confirmed in his faith in observing, that the Gospel has lasted longer, and has spread farther, than the systems of the ancient founders of states and religions; that it is more esteemed the longer it is studied and practised by the wisest and best of men; that it bids fail- to last to the most distant posterity. To the infidel the presumption is, to us it is more than presumption, that the Gospel is peculiarly conducive to the good of society; and, therefore, ought to be esteemE e 2 ed