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but the enemies both of the Jews and the Christians referred to and quoted them, though they did not acknowledge them to be divine. These books of ancient prophecies have been carefully preserved through every succeeding age, as well by Jews as Christians. Their antiquity and genuineness are indisputable. And the accomplishment of predictions which they record fully justify us in believing them to have been inspired.
In prophesying of the Messiah, who was to reveal the purposes of divine grace to men, these writings foretold that he should be born of a virgin, should live in poverty and want, should be a reformer and preacher of righteousness, and yet be meek and humble, unostentatious and unobtrusive, rather avoiding than courting notice and popularity; that though perfectly innocent and harmless, he should be opposed by the rulers of his nation, and persecuted as a criminal; and that his kingdom, (his religion) should prevail among the heathen even to the ends of the earth. All these predictions, we learn from history, have been wonderfully accomplished in Jesus Christ, the author of our holy religion.
It will be admitted that the reason and moral sense of man given him by his Creator,
if duly cultivated, will lead him to results favorable to the social duties, and that an attentive consideration of the power and goodness of God, exhibited in the works of creation, will excite devout and grateful feelings towards the Supreme Being. It will also be granted, that, from considering the powers and faculties of the mind, and the unequal distribution of rewards and punishments in this life, we are furnished with arguments which render probable the doctrine of a future state of being. But with this concession, it may justly be insisted, that decisive and convincing evidence was wanted to establish the doctrine of immortality; that the world was destitute of a complete system of moral precepts; and that the forms of worship and the prevalent opinions concerning the attributes of God were irrational and ridiculous. On all these subjects, the gospel. of Jesus Christ is explicit and satisfactory. It confirms those sentiments of moral obligation and shose apprehensions of the Deity, which are consentaneous to the most enlightened reason. It furnishes new truths respecting the divine character and purposes, assures us of a state of future and immortal existence, and supplies maxims and precepts relative to
our social duties and to personal virtue most excellent, comprehensive and perfect. The christian religion speaks to us with authority; and its sanctions are new and powerful. No system ever promulged to the world can be justly compared to Christianity in these respects. In morals they were defective; in theory, perplexing and absurd ;- in the sanctions to virtue, miserably imbecile.
Let us then for a moment consider, that an obscure, illiterate Jew was the author of this religion, so pure, so rational, so comprehensive, so profound, so consoling, so efficient. Is not the conclusion irresistible, that he was inspired by that Spirit, who knows all things, and is the source of intelligence and wisdom? No sage, with the best means of acquiring knowledge, with all the advantages of a learned education and of elaborate research, ever gave a system so perfect, so full of discoveries respecting the character of God and the duties and the hopes of man. For every effect there must be an adequate cause. The religion of Christ then was from heaven: the doctrines he preached to the world were taught him by the Spirit of God.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find no sectarian spirit, no bigotted prejudices, no
exclusive views; nothing to nourish selfconceit or spiritual pride. It is calculated for an universal religion; its blessings are of. fered to the penitent, the humble and pious of every age and nation. Unlike the systems adopted by human policy, it attaches comparatively trifling importance to rites and ceremonies; and teaches us that moral goodness consists in humility, in purity, in self-government, in sincerity, in charity. It lays the foundation of virtue in the heart; and enjoins the regulation of the passions; which, unsubdued and undiciplined, are the occasion of all our vices.
To an attentive and unprejudiced reader of the Gospels it must be obvious, that Christianity is a very different thing from what it is represented to be in some scholastic systems of theory. It is addressed to the poor and the illiterate, and insists not at all upon metaphysical distinctions and speculative opinions. The dogmas of theologians have but little support from the Christian religion. The additions of human philosophy have corrupted the simplicity of the Gospel. If we attend to its declarations, we shall find, that what, above all things, it inculcates as important, is a humble, devout, grateful spirit to
wards God; and a kind, forgiving, charitable disposition towards our fellow men-and to prevent all mistake on this point, it teaches us, that the evidence of our piety and love to God arises wholly from our benevolence and candor, to our brethren of mankind.
A fundamental, an explicit doctrine of the Gospel is, that God is merciful; that he is in himself propitious; that all our privileges, all our enjoyments and all our hopes are to be referred to his original, essential and unsolicited goodness. That attribute of the Deity which disposes him to pardon the penitent and to bestow favors on man, is not the effect, but the cause of Christ's mediation, and of all the blessings dispensed to us through him. "We testify," said the Apostle John, "that God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." "Herein is love-that God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."
It is, in my opinion, an essential error, a sentiment, militating with both the spirit and letter of the Gospel, to say, that God is in himself implacable and unpropitious; and