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refer to our Lord's discourses in corroboration of this remark. We would say to the inquirer, examine their connexion; analyze the reasonings advanced in them; compare all that you know of your own heart and life, and all that you have observed of human nature, with the appeals which are made by our Lord to the conscience. And we confidently believe that he, who has done this, will be previously fortified against the reasonings of the infidel; and will have attained a conviction of the divinity, wisdom, and value, of the Gospel, of which it will not be easy to deprive him. Without such a knowledge as that we have been describing, he is not in fact qualified to judge aright. He may refuse to believe, but he has never yet had sufficient reason to disbelieve; he may hesitate and waver, but he has never yet taken the method which can lead him to a solid and considerate decision.
We are also apt to consider the question of evidence in such a way, that the affections are not warmed, and the heart remains unmoved, even when with the understanding we assent to truths and realities so unspeakably important. We are apt to lose sight of the nature, extent, and obligations, of that into which we are inquiring; and we lay aside the inquiry, perhaps, with as little religious emotion, as if we had satisfactorily settled some question of science, taste, or criticism. But this
is not a question of mere judgment, curiosity, or temporary interest. It inquires into the truth of a scheme, which embraces the concerns of time and eternity, and professes to provide for both; but whose threatenings are as alarming to the ungodly, as its promises are consolatory to the faithful. The Scripture continually puts us into a practical posture, summoning the whole man to give judgment on this awfully important subject. When it has advanced what may justly convince the understanding, it then addresses the conscience; probes and dissects the heart, and lays open all that hardens, deludes, and defiles it; shews to us what drags down the affections, and what darkens the understanding. These moral causes of unbelief, which leave some undecided and inconsistent as Christians, and which confirm others in infidelity, are abundantly specified in Scripture. The view, which we propose to take of the evidences, is thus invested with a practical character. Not that the strict accuracy of our investigation, and the hardihood with which we ought to embrace and abide by the consequences of it, need at all be diminished by an attention to such considerations. Yet at the same time, also, that we resolve carefully to scrutinize the arguments in defence of Christianity, we are bound, both by the nature of the case, by reason, and by interest, to remember that eternal life is too
important a stake to be ventured either upon a mere cavil, or even a plausible objection; much less to be sacrificed to any of those unholy and temporizing motives, which so often give both existence and permanence to our doubts respecting religious truth.
In endeavouring to illustrate the remarks, which have now been offered, it will be impracticable to review all our Lord's discourses, and the facts to which they refer, in chronological order. This would, indeed, make us more completely familiar with the way in which the evidences of Christianity were at first proposed, with the effects successively produced, and with the progress of the demonstration; but it would lead to frequent repetition, as well as to a less condensed, and less comprehensive, view of the subject. It would perhaps, therefore, be expedient to consider only a few of our Lord's discourses; or even, if such there be, some single one, which brings the several heads of evidence together. Now such a summary we find in the discourse recorded in the fifth Chapter of St. John's Gospel; which contains, I believe, more orderly, distinctly, and fully, than any other, the leading arguments in behalf of our Lord's mission and character. That discourse consists of three distinct portions. The first of these contains a full and awakening statement of the
pretensions which Jesus advanced, in answer to the objections of the Jews, and in arrest of the hasty decision, and murderous intentions, which their rulers had adopted, because he had cured the impotent man on the sabbath day. The second division contains an appeal to five important heads of evidence in support of those pretensions. In the third, our Lord states the fact of the infidelity of the great body of the Jews; and notices, in a striking and forcible manner, several of the principles and errors, which were tending to, and ultimately produced, that result; and which, being for the most part common to all mankind, under the form and modifications which their respective circumstances produce, ever have been, and still are amongst ourselves, the leading causes of avowed, suppressed, and practical unbelief..
We shall bring forward what we have to offer to your consideration, in the order suggested by that discourse; not only entering upon a complete analysis of it, but also employing it as a directory for the convenient arrangement of many other detached observations, and of the facts and prophecies to which those observations refer. The first portion of our Lectures will be occupied in considering the several statements which Jesus made of his pretensions up to the period when he delivered the discourse in question. We shall then consider the appeals which from that time
he began to make to the evidences in support of his mission and character; collecting under each of the five heads of evidence specified on that occasion, what our Lord elsewhere advanced on the same topics; and afterwards considering such as are omitted in that discourse, so as to complete that department of our subject.-And lastly, we shall conclude with considering the infidelity of the Jews; the principles and dispositions to which our Lord attributes a rejection of the Gospel; and the awful sanctions both of promise and of threatening with which it is offered to our acceptance.-But it may be expedient further to observe, that it will often be necessary to enter upon a detailed explanation of the occasion, upon which the several arguments were advanced; in order that we may place ourselves, as nearly as possible, in the circumstances of those to whom they were addressed. And we may also observe, that our Lord's reasonings upon evidence are scarcely ever separated from the statement of his pretensions, and a practical appeal to the conscience; and that the two latter topics are generally found in connexion with each other, even when unaccompanied by the first.
We have been now endeavouring to shew you, that a full acquaintance with the contents of the Gospel history is as sufficient, as it is necessary, to furnish just views of "the certainty of those things