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4. If Christianity be agreeable to reason, then all who really understand it must necessarily believe it. Whatever gets hold of reason in any man, he is constrained to believe, in spite of his heart. His heart may for a while obstruct, or eventually hinder truth from getting hold of his reason; but if it does not prevent truth from coming into his understanding, it cannot prevent his belief of it. A man's heart may prevent his demonstrating a mathematical truth; but it cannot prevent his believing that truth after he has demonstrated it. This holds true of Christianity. If a man will allow himself to examine, or suffer himself to be taught, the great and distinguishing doctrines of the christian religion, so as really to understand them, he cannot resist conviction, but must believe them to be true, whether they are agreeable or disagreeable to his heart. If the heart does not prevent the exercise, it cannot prevent the verdict of reason. Christianity displays the manifold wisdom of God, and therefore must approve itself to every intelligent creature who really understands it. It is the reasonableness of this revealed religion that has convinced ninety-nine in a hundred, if not nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand, of those who in all ages have embraced it, either in speculation or practice. If we can only make men understand the gospel, we may be sure we have gained their everlasting belief; in consequence of which they must for ever hold the truth, either in righteousness or unrighteousness.

5. If Christianity be agreeable to reason, then it is no mark of superior penetration and knowledge to disbelieve it. That men of great information and acuteness in reasoning have disbelieved the gospel, we would not pretend to deny ; but that their disbelief has been owing to their superior learning and ingenuity, we must be allowed to call in question. Reason can never prevent men's seeing the reasonableness of a perfectly reasonable religion; but only prevent their seeing the reasonableness of such religions as are founded in ignorance, delusion, or falsehood. If Christianity were a cunningly devised fable, it might be justly expected that men of the first abilities should be the first to discover and to disbelieve the imposture. But since it is founded in the highest reason, the disbelief of it, in both the learned and unlearned, can originate from no other source than that native corruption of heart which blinds the understanding, and creates either stupidity, inattention or prejudice, respecting the glorious gospel of the blessed God. To this criminal cause our Saviour himself ascribes the infidelity of his hearers. "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth

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God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God."

6. If Christianity be agreeable to reason, then it is no evidence of a weak or disordered mind to believe and love the gospel. It is every way suited to gain the reason and conscience, and to raise the affections of all those who realize their guilty and perishing condition by nature, and are willing to return to God upon the most reasonable and gracious terms. It was a very unjust and unmerited reproach which the enemies of Christianity cast upon those who gladly received the word on the day of Pentecost, that their minds were disordered by new wine. And it was equally absurd and malignant in Festus, after the apostle had related his conversion, and religious views and feelings, to cry out in a sneer, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." But the apostle replied with a pertinence and solemnity, directly suited to fill his mind with shame and remorse, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberIn this striking instance, "Wisdom was justified of her children." Our Saviour forewarned his followers of what they had to expect from unbelievers. "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household." But it is preposterous folly in infidels to sneer at the children of light, as weak or disordered in their intellects, because they believe and love and prize that reasonable and glorious gospel which the highest order of intelligences contemplate with admiration and ecstasy. The most eminent christians, whether high or low, whether learned or unlearned, act the most reasonable and proper part in regard to religion, of any men in the world. They are the wise, who shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, when the impenitent and unbelieving shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt.

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The reasonableness of Christianity is a fruitful subject, and did the season and circumstances admit, I might easily enlarge upon it. But I will relieve the patience of my respected audience, after saying a few words by way of address to the pastor elect.*

Dear Sir: You have acted a reasonable part in preferring the work of the ministry to any other calling. It is the most reasonable, the most useful, and the most agreeable service in which God allows any of our fallen, guilty race to be employed.

*Rev Gaius Conant, ordained at Paxton, Feb. 17, 1808.

If you understand, and believe, and love the religion of Christ, you will find peculiar satisfaction in leading your fellow creatures to the knowledge and love of those revealed truths which are able to make them wise unto salvation. Christianity is so perfectly and profoundly reasonable, that you will never have the least occasion to handle the word of God deceitfully, in order to establish any doctrine, or to inculcate any duty, or to reprove any vice, or to refute any error, or to avoid any inconsistency in the sentiments you deliver. While you preach the great and interesting truths of the gospel in their harmony and connection, you will approve yourself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. The reasonableness of Christianity affords you great encouragement to preach it with the utmost plainness and fidelity. At first view, it appears surpri sing that mankind, who are by nature enemies of the cross of Christ, should suffer ministers to preach the painful, mortifying doctrines of the gospel. But when we consider that all men have reason and conscience, and that a reasonable religion will take hold of these inflexible powers of the mind in spite of their hearts, it is not so strange that sinners will hear what their reason and conscience constrain them to believe is strictly true, and infinitely important. The faithful preacher always has the reason and conscience of every man on his side, which is the firmest hold of the human mind. If you preach the gospel plainly and fully, you will make it appear reasonable; and if you make it appear reasonable, you will constrain your people not only to believe it, but to feel their infinite obligations to obey it from the heart. If you yourself clearly see, and sensibly feel the importance of divine truths, you can scarcely fail of arresting the attention, piercing the consciences, and impressing the hearts of your hearers. The gospel is a two-edged sword, which has slain its thousands and ten thousands. It is not a carnal weapon, but "mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Only be faithful in pointing this weapon to your own breast, and to the breasts of your people, and you will certainly gain all which you have any reason to expect, or even to desire; and that is to be a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To this may you and all the people in this place say, Amen.




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