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the age immediately succeeding must imply more miracles, and those without any rational object, than that history supposes. The like, he says, must be the case with respect to the history of the Jews in the Old Testament. If the Mosaic hifto. ry be admitted, that of the Jews in that age, and from that time to the present, is natural; but on any other fuppofition most unaccountable ; thar whole nation thinking and acting as no human beings ever did, or possibly could, think and act. Whereas, it must be taken for granted, that the Jews are, and ever have been, men, as well as ourselves. This is the state of the argument between believers and unbelievers in revelation, that I have frequently held out, and no person can say that it is an unfair one. Least of all it is such as as a man who wishes to be goyerned by reason, and who would account for all appearances in the, most natural manner, can object to.
The present times are, no doubt, exceedingly critical with respect to Christianity; and being fully persuaded of its truth, I rejoice that they are so. Whatever will not bear the test of the most rigorous scrutiny must now be rejected ; the great supports of superstition and imposture, viz. human authority, power and emolument, being now, in a great measure, withdrawn. This will be the means of purging our religion from every thing that will
not bear this rigorous examination; but it will contribute to the firmer establiment of every thing that will bear it. And what can we wish for more? It ought not to be any man's interest to maintain an error, and to take an idle tale for undoubted fact. But if revealed revelation be true, if vores was commiffioned to teach the unity of God, and the purity of his worship; and if Jesus Chriit was commissioned to confirm the same, and to announce to mankind the still more interesting doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and a future state of righteous retribution, it is of infinite consequence that all men should be apprized of it; since their conduct here, and their expectations hereafter, are nearly concerned in it. Compared with truths so momentous as these, all other know: ledge is a trifle.
It is no small satisfaction to Christians, that even the present prevalence of infidelity, as well as the universal spread, and final establishment, of Christianity, were foretold by Christ. And as he spake of this infidelity as one of the signs of his approaching coming, we may be looking forward with confidence and joy to that glorious event; after which the belief of Christianity, together with the reign of virtue, and of peace, will be universal. This will be that kingdom of God, or of heaven, which is the consummation to which we should be devoutly
looking, and which, by our Saviour's direction, is the subject of our daily prayers, when nation Mall no more lift up sword against nation, and when they Mall learn war no more. For an account of other signs of the approach of this great catastrophe, I refer to my Fast Sermon of this year. The present times are uncommonly eventful. I expect that they will be exceedingly calamitous; but that the final issue will be most glorious. .
As my Discourse on the Resurrection of Jesus, and also that which exhibits a view of revealed religion, preached at the ordination of Mr. Field, when Mr. Bellham gave the charge, printed along with it, fall within the plan of these Discourses (the latter making a proper conclusion to them) I have made them part of this course; and as I Mhall no more publish them separately, and with to preserve the Prefaces, and the Address to the
Jews prefixed to the former, I shall give them in an Appendix.
Also, at the request of some friends, for whose advice I have the greatest deference, I subjoin a copy of my Correspondence with Mr. Gibbon, occasioned by my presenting him with a copy of my History of the Corruptions of Christianity. It will appear that I always thought myself at liberty to do this. But he being now dead, and there
being no person who can be offended at it, every Shadow of objection to the publication is removed.
I considered Mr. Gibbon as better qualified to discuss the evidences of Christianity than any other unbeliever in this country, and probably in any other; and his plan of attack being on the ground of history, and human nature, was the fairest of any; so that the discussion to which it would have led seemed well calculated to overturn the scheme if it was not well founded, or to establish it if it was. I therefore regret that he did not comply with my invitation, to which his writings gave the fairest occasion. The interest of important truth would, no doubt, have been promoted by it. As to Mr. Gibbon's motives, for declining the discussion (which on my part would have been very dispasionate) and the temper with which the letters are written, every person will form his own judgment.
In the Preface to my Letters to a Pbilosopbical Unbeliever, in which I replied to Mr. Hume's Posthumous Dialogues, I gave Dr. Adam Smith, with whom I had some acquaintaince, a hint that I had no objection to discuss with him the Atheistical principles of his deceased friend. But he took no notice of it. No friend of religion, I trust, will ever decline the defence of his prin
ciples, but, as the apostle Peter exhorts, be al-